Cruz Espitia (J.D. ’21) works hard to take advantage of every opportunity he can. Growing up in Dalton, Georgia, Espitia was surrounded by a thriving Hispanic community of hardworking and humble immigrants. His parents were a part of that community, who had immigrated from Mexico and instilled in him at a young age the importance of a good education.
“My parents had to leave school at what would be the equivalent of middle school here to help provide for their families and work, so my siblings and I are the first ones in our family to graduate from high school,” Espitia said.
The sacrifices Espitia’s parents made to provide these opportunities are his biggest motivators. In thinking about how he could pay that forward and use his skills to help others, Espitia knew law school was the answer where he would pursue a career in immigration law.
Now in his third year at Georgia State Law, Espitia is getting hands on experience in this area by participating in the Immigration Clinic. With how complex the immigration system and courts are in the United States, Espitia is grateful to take what he’s learned so far and apply it in a way that’s making real impacts on someone’s life.
“It’s been so gratifying to use both the theoretical and practical knowledge and skills that I’ve been learning for the past several years,” said Espitia. “Our client from the clinic is actually from an area close to where my family lives, so it’s been very rewarding to be able to help someone in a situation that hits so close to home and to do something I’ve been wanting to do for so long.”
Beyond trying to make an impact on the life of clients, he’s also trying to diversify the legal profession. Espitia is the treasurer of the Latinx and Caribbean Law Student Association at Georgia State Law. The organization’s main goal is to grow their representation in the field.
“Like any sector, we want to be able to have professionals that are representative of the American population,” said Espitia. “So, the fact that our community makes up as little as it does of the legal community is something that we want to work to improve.”
The organization also tries to foster a real sense of community and support within its members because the number of students that identity as Latinx or Caribbean is relatively small. But Espitia says even outside of the student organization, that community feel is not hard to find in the halls of Georgia State Law.
“Everyone is so down to earth and supportive, I’ve been able to establish long lasting friendships,” he said. “It’s just been a great experience so far. I am so lucky to be afforded this opportunity and I am looking forward to maximizing every chance I get to use my skills to help others.”
Written by Mara Thompson