A powerful message from a 2013 LEAP student.
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This year's Legal Education Program (LEAP) held June 16-21, 2014 in Hartford, Connecticut in partnership with Day Pitney, LLP was another success for The Fund. LEAP is a fully-funded week long summer “law camp” for minority students. “This was the fastest week ever; I wish it could have been longer. I couldn’t believe everything was done so quickly. So little time, so many memories, helpful experiences and friendships that I will never forget,” said LEAP camper Kathryn Garcia.
This year, students were housed at the University of Hartford and the University Of Connecticut School of Law provided a lecture hall and use of their Moot Court Room for the program’s mock trial. LEAP's 2014 class of campers, 22 students in all, were a mix of high school kids from Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Maryland, Florida, Texas, New Mexico, and California. “The Fund grows this program in incredible ways every year. LEAP’s class included a Dreamer and it reached overseas and accepted a student from Guatemala whose high school community helped to raise the funds necessary to cover her international travel costs,” said HNBA National President Miguel Pozo, adding “this program embodies the HNBA’s mission to build a diverse a pipeline for our profession.”
LEAP is administered under the leadership of Mark Gallegos, HNBA Fund Secretary and former HNBA National President and executed by National LEAP Program Director, Cynthia Carrasco White using a curriculum she developed for The Fund. On the ground support was provided by Day Pitney, LLP and the Hispanic Bar Association of CT.
During the week long summer camp, students were hosted by CT Supreme Court Justice Carmen Espinoza at the Court for a tour and lecture, at the Connecticut State House, and the Hartford City Council. Campers also spent time with Connecticut Attorney General George Jepsen and were welcomed at The Hartford Insurance Company and Day Pitney for discussions and networking/social events with Latino attorneys and business executives. At the University of Connecticut School of Law, the students met with Dean Thomas Fisher and sat for a lecture by Professor Paul Chill, who commented afterward that the students “introduced themselves professionally (and frankly adorably), asked terrific questions, and their reflections on the block exercise were so intelligent and perceptive that … [it] adds to my admiration for the work you and your colleagues obviously put in this.”
“I had the pleasure of spending a lot of time with the students on their first day and their last,” said HNBA Fund President Omar A. Vargas continuing that “On day one, they were clearly anxious about the week and what would come...by day six they did not want to go home.”
“It wasn't all business for the students—it’s a summer camp after all!” added Vargas. The students were entertained with a WFSB Hartford Eyewitness News media crew for a segment about The Fund and the LEAP program and, meals were occasionally taken at Hartford's variety of Latino restaurants including an all-important viewing of Colombia's World Cup tournament win over the Ivory Coast taken it at a Colombian restaurant, of course.
This year's program sponsors and supporters include Boston Fox News Journalist and volunteer Mock Trial Judge Joy Lim Nakrin, Day Pitney, The Hartford, The Hispanic Bar Association of Connecticut, DuPont, University of Connecticut School of Law, Gaffney Bennett, Duby McDowell & Associates, and Praxair, Inc.
In a note of thanks to the HNBA and the HNBA Legal Education Fund, LEAP Camper Aleyzza Medina wrote “[w]hen we first met you, [Mr. Vargas,] you set a bar for the rest of the lawyers and important people we met in Hartford. Your personality and openness towards us had me in shock because I've never had a stranger help me become so familiarized with them in such a small amount of time. There are truly no words to how happy and blessed I am to have had this opportunity you have given me. I wouldn't trade this opportunity for anything.”
LEAP and all other HNBA Fund programs are made possible by contributions from individuals, HNBA members, Hispanic bar associations, schools, law firms, and corporations. Consider making donation to the Fund by visiting www.hnbafund.org/donate.
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