“It reminds me there is somebody who believes in me,” says the 3L
“Immigrants like me, we need a lot of motivation to pursue our dreams,” says Roberto Avila, a third-year University of Arizona Law student and recipient of The Los Abogados Foundation / Honorable Valdemar Cordova Scholarship. “We all have dreams, regardless of where we come from. We all face challenges. But this scholarship means a lot to me because it reminds me that there is somebody who believes in me.”
The Cordova Scholarship, established by Los Abogados, Arizona’s Hispanic Bar Association, honors Arizona Law alumnus Valdemar A. Cordova (’50), the first Mexican-American Superior Court judge in Maricopa County and the first Hispanic federal court judge in Arizona.
“The Los Abogados Foundation / Honorable Valdemar Cordova Scholarship, more than a mere award of financial support, is the commitment of our attorneys and the advancements, which have been generations in the making, to pave opportunities for truly deserving diverse law students to enter the profession,” says Los Abogados Foundation President Marian Zapata-Rossa.
Avila, originally from Hermosillo, Sonora in Mexico, says his interest in law began at an early age. He was always intrigued by human behavior and fairness, leading him to want to study law. He attended the University of Sonora in his hometown of Hermosillo and earned his law degree. Avila practiced criminal and civil law for about a year before moving to the United States and switching careers.
“I decided to try education,” says Avila, who pursued a teaching degree in secondary education, followed by a 16-year teaching career. He taught middle school science, social studies and Spanish in Tucson.
“I found it very interesting to teach students, help students and to make a difference. That is the key for me, I wanted to make a difference,” he says. “I enjoyed the teaching profession a lot. Then, I thought it was time for me to move to the law again.”
Having already established roots with his family in Tucson and knowing about Arizona Law’s JD for non-U.S. lawyers admissions track, Avila knew Arizona was the right choice for law school.
"I didn’t get the chance to be fully involved and part of the legal community [in Mexico] and I feel like I have already found that here at University of Arizona Law,” he says.
Avila hopes to pursue a law career where he can help make a difference in education, immigration or business.
“I believe so many fields are connected and go hand in hand with law,” he says.
Avila is also currently working on his International Trade and Business Law LLM, with plans to complete that degree after his JD.
“Coming from Mexico, it is important to be part of the economic development of these neighboring regions. I think by somehow helping or being a part of international trade, we will cure a lot of differences and problems that we have in the world and many other secondary issues,” he says.
After graduation, Avila wants to help others and be a resource to his community and future law students, much like The Val Cordova Scholarship did for him.
“Regardless of the economic part, which helps a lot, it means a lot for me because it is an emotional support. Knowing that there is an institution that recognizes me and believes in me. It is motivation,” says Avila.
“This degree is very rewarding, but it is not easy. I want to be a vehicle and resource for other students who want to pursue their dreams. Especially minority groups, they need a lot of help and information because we face challenges to pursue higher education and I believe we should have the opportunity to be highly educated,” he says. “I always remember who helped me and supported me in my journey, and I want to do the same. I want to be that resource to guide people and help them pursue their dreams as well.”