Mabel's Open Road

  • INTERVIEWED BY:

    DREAMers Roadtrip

MABEL ARELLANES

Clerk
New Mexico Law Offices of the Public Defender

“I didn’t go to law school for me; I went to law school for the people around me—for the people who face everyday injustices, and who don’t have a voice.”

INTERESTS:

Government Law

THEMES DISCUSSED:

Community Goals Hard Work Perseverance Success Individualism Opportunity Societal Pressures Dedication Support & Encouragement Courage Family Failure Fear

FOUNDATION:

Accomplishing Goals

BIOGRAPHY:

  • She got pregnant at the age of 15 and decided to drop out of high school; in her community, that was the norm.
  • By chance, she met an attorney who hired her as an assistant—she quickly fell in love with the law.
  • She went back to high school and earned her diploma, but then found out that she’d be unable to attend college because she was an undocumented immigrant.
  • Instead of giving up, she joined an advocacy group and successfully lobbied to pass Senate Bill 582, allowing undocumented students in New Mexico to go to college and receive financial aid.
  • She got into the University of New Mexico and was so happy, she felt like she was “going to the moon.”
  • By the time she finished college, she was in love with education and wanted to keep going, so she applied to law school.
  • Only after completing law school did she find out that there was a New Mexico law that would block her from being sworn in—at that point, she almost gave up.
  • However, with pro-bono help from a team of attorneys, she was allowed to take the bar exam; she passed, and was admitted to the State Bar of New Mexico.

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