June 15, 2015 (Philadelphia, PA) – The Hispanic Bar Association of Pennsylvania (HBAPA) and the Hispanic Bar Association of Pennsylvania Legal Education Fund (HBA LEF) launched a new program to support high school seniors who are considering a career in the law and who come from populations traditionally under-represented in the Philadelphia legal community. The HBAPA and HBA LEF selected Esperanza Academy Charter School Senior, Yessenia Clemente, as its inaugural mentee. The inaugural program is being run under the supervision of Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas Judge M. Teresa Sarmina and the leadership of HBAPA President, Alex Gonzalez, HBA LEF President, Lorena Ahumada, and HBAPA Board Member, Jacqueline Romero, with the assistance of fellow HBAPA and HBA LEF members, local law students and state and federal judges across the Philadelphia region.
The program seeks highly motivated students who: (1) will start college in Fall 2015 and (2) are members of groups that are traditionally under-represented in the law. In particular, the HBAPA and HBA LEF encourage low-income students, students of color, and/or first-generation college students to apply.
The HBAPA and HBA LEF will follow Ms. Clemente through her four years of college, provide her with guidance on how to succeed in college, show her the benefits of a career in the law, demystify the process of applying to law school and prepare Ms. Clemente to be a successful lawyer. Ms. Clemente will receive one-on-one mentorship from local law students, HBAPA and HBA LEF members and state and federal judges, and her mentor team will meet as a group several times a year to share how Ms. Clemente is progressing toward her goal of attending law school and having a successful legal career.
“The Sí Se Puede program is designed to support the diverse pipeline of lawyers and we look forward to helping Ms. Clemente achieve her dreams,” said HBAPA President, Alex Gonzalez. Jacqueline Romero added “We are very excited to both work with Ms. Clemente, an ambitious, young Latina, and to help advance the goal of inclusiveness in the legal profession.” HBA LEF President, Lorena Ahumada, noted that “For over 25 years the HBA LEF has worked to make law school more affordable for Latino/a students, and we’re excited to now partner with the HBAPA to mentor high school students as they prepare for college and then law school.”
The Sí Se Puede program is part of a national initiative of the Hispanic National Bar Association that was founded by Judge Christina Arguello, a federal judge on the United States District Court for the District of Colorado. From humble beginnings in Buena Vista, Colorado, the judge became the first Latina from Colorado admitted to Harvard Law School, the first Latina partner at a large law firm in Colorado, and the first Latina to be confirmed as a judge on Colorado’s federal bench. The Honorable M. Teresa Sarmina stated, “It is incumbent on those of us who have achieved significant careers in the law to make a commitment to help the next generation move forward. It is exciting to be involved at this early stage in a young student’s aspirations.”