Jessica Gomez x’22 is one of the 2,243 Latinx or Hispanic students at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. For most of her college career, she focused on her studies in textile and fashion design until she had a conversation about “secret goals” with a fellow sorority member. It was during this conversation that Gomez first confessed that her biggest fantasy was to become a lawyer, an idea that felt far out of reach when she came to UW–Madison.
Though Gomez dreamt of becoming a lawyer, she didn’t know where to start. “I didn’t know anything about the [law school] admissions process, didn’t even know what the LSAT was,” Gomez says. “Not having access to that information made the dream seem impossible to me.” She decided to reach out to the UW’s Center for Pre-Law Advising and enrolled in its spring 2020 LSAT 101 boot camp. That experience sparked in her the idea of establishing the UW’s Latinx Pre-Law Student Association (LPSA).
Walking into the boot camp’s first day, Gomez found that she was one of the only Latinx students in the session. Most of her classmates were white and had family members in law school or years of preparation and resources. “I was sitting at this table realizing how much of a disadvantage I was in, compared to everyone else,” Gomez says. “I knew I wasn’t the only one going through this, so I met up with [Carlos Puga x’22] and brought up the idea of this org.” The two became LPSA’s cochairs.
LPSA’s mission is to make law school admissions more accessible to Latinx students, who make up less than 8 percent of the campus population. Gomez also hopes the organization will “bring awareness on what higher education looks like and that it is attainable for people.”
The COVID-19 pandemic affected plans to roll out LPSA in fall 2020. In its early, virtual meetings, the organization had to overcome Zoom fatigue, getting hacked during meetings, and difficulty reaching their target audience. Gomez sees the first year as a “trial run,” and she would like to see the organization involve practicing lawyers and start a mentorship program. “You don’t even have to be Latinx to help us,” she says. “It’s just all about accessibility.”