Mabel Arellanes

Mabel Arellanes


New Mexico Law Offices of the Public Defender

Albuquerque, NM USA

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.


By Roadtrip Nation

Mabel Arellanes


My road in life has been direct.
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.
Keep following my journey



I'm a law clerk and assistant public defender for a law firm in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

Career Roadmap

My work combines:
My work combines:
Accomplishing Goals


The Noise I Shed

From Teachers:

"You will never be able to go to college because you don't have a social security number. "

Challenges I Overcame

Young Parent

Interviewed By

Beyond the Dream

Beyond the Dream

Undocumented young Americans explore their futures