Vilma Serrano Roca
Class of 2016
Law degree, University of Saint Thomas Aquinas, Sectional Bucaramanga, Colombia
What did you do before law school, and what led to you pursue a law degree?
I always wanted to be a lawyer. This desire arose in me because my parents always taught me the importance of helping others and to act justly in every one of the circumstances of life. I decided to obtain the knowledge and leadership necessary to allow me to pursue a career aligned with those values. I committed myself to work for those who sought justice and mediate for the solution of conflicts. I had the opportunity to practice values such as integrity, honesty, justice, and respect, which helped me to be a better human being.
Before law school in the United States, I worked for 16 years in the legal profession in my country. After university, I worked as an attorney at the General Accounting of the Republic. There, I was in charge of auditing the resources of the Colombian national budget that were distributed to organizations providing aid to low-income people. After, I worked for 13 years for the Judicial Branch of Colombia, where I was a civil and labor law judge in different municipalities.
When I came to the United States, I wanted to continue with one of my great passions in life, which is law. Pursuing a law degree will allow me to accomplish my desire to become a part of this society and to help others in community and service.
What activities are you involved in at the law school or in the community?
At school, I am a member of the Latino Law Student Association and the Racial Justice Leadership Institute, which have both helped me to become a leader who looks for justice in all areas of the profession.
I also work in various volunteer programs. I served as a volunteer in the Office of Admissions at the high school where my daughter graduated. This work gave me the opportunity to provide and serve food to the homeless in Seattle. I helped the city of Sammamish run its farmer’s market between May and October. Since February of 2012, I have been a volunteer at Eastside Legal Assistant Program (ELAP), where I have learned about Washington family law. This volunteering work has allowed me to meet low-income people to whom ELAP provides legal assistance, basically for cases of domestic violence.
Since June of 2012 I have been the intake person in charge of the Issaquah Legal Clinic, which offers legal assistance in general and family law to low-income people two Wednesdays a month.
What have you found most valuable during your law school education?
What I have found most valuable during my law school education at Seattle University are the people working here and how the program is designed. It is wonderful to realize the amount of resources that the school offers to the students to be successful. The warmth I have found in each and every one of the people who work at school has been amazing. All are very nice and helpful and are always willing to offer support. In short, I can say that Seattle University School of Law has an admirable organization, designed to secure the welfare and success of its students.
What advice would you offer a prospective law student?
I would give two pieces of advice. The first one is to focus on your studies. To be focused on your studies means doing the assigned readings for each class, summarizing the topic for the class using the Hornbooks and/or the aid books, and participating in class by asking questions or bringing useful information. It is important to always organize and plan ahead. It is essential not to leave assignments until the last minute.
The second one is to participate in community volunteer activities, learning things and putting into practice the knowledge acquired in class. At school there are many opportunities for doing activities with the community and developing a sense of social responsibility, which is intimately linked with our profession as lawyers.