Jesus Martinez grew up seeing City Year red jackets around Boston. He participated in City Year afterschool programs as a student and when he graduated from college, Jesus knew City Year would be part of his journey to law school. “I knew their values aligned with mine. I didn’t know what to expect,” Jesus recalls laughing, “but I wanted the experience of serving and leading others.”
Today, Jesus is a Paralegal Advocate at the Legal Services Center of Harvard Law School: Project on Predatory Student Lending Clinic. He assists students who attended for-profit colleges and have been victimized by predatory student loan lending.
Jesus credits his City Year experience for teaching him the leadership and professional skills he uses in his role today. As a Paralegal Advocate, his job is to help clients understand the law and how to navigate it. As an AmeriCorps member, he worked with English Language Learners at The English High School and translated classroom instruction and materials for students. “I saw first-hand how important language and access is for advocacy. My City Year experience gave me an even greater appreciation for serving others. The experience solidified my passion for public interest law.”
Now Jesus liaises between clients and lawyers, the same way he once worked with students and partner teachers.
That relationship building is key to his work. “I know I wouldn’t be successful if I couldn’t build trusting relationships with my clients,” Jesus says. Relationship building is a fundamental aspect of service.
At The English High School, Jesus was surrounded by collaborative teammates. When asked about serving with City Year, he describes the professionalism. “The days were long, but I had an amazing team and made friendships I still have today.”
Jesus took advantage of City Year’s professional development resources and met his mentor through the program, and even shadowed her for a day. “My mentor still helps me,” Jesus describes, “Those resources can make a difference in your career whether you pursue education, medicine, or law like me.” Next year, Jesus plans on taking the LSAT and eventually studying immigration law in school.
The leadership, public speaking, and soft skills he learned will be a huge asset to him as a lawyer. “When I look back, service was an amazing challenge. I tell everyone, go in with an open mind, and understand it will be a life-changing experience.”
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