Lorena Jiron: Her Personal Experience Helps Empower Others

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Looking at just a few of Lorena Jiron’s achievements, it’s easy to understand why Law School Dean Matthew Diller has described her as “one of the most extraordinary law students I have worked with in my more than 20 years in legal academia.”

The Class of 2017 Fordham Law student has been a Stein Scholar, a Moot Court competitor, an associate editor of the Fordham International Law Journal, and a president of the Latin American Law Students Association.

The National Jurist named her one of the 25 “Law Students of the Year” for 2016-17.

Outside of Fordham, Jiron has held a variety of internships that have focused on civil rights and social justice. Among these are positions with the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, the family and immigration unit of NYC Legal Services, and Day One, which provides free legal advocacy to youth who are victims of intimate partner violence.

A Deeply Personal Choice

Jiron said her desire to attend law school was rooted in deeply personal experiences. She was raised in Miami by a single mother who emigrated from Nicaragua in 1974. When Jiron was 22, she lost her mother to cancer and was left to face all the outstanding legal and financial issues on her own.

“I just felt so lost,” she said. “And I remember thinking, ‘I wish there were a lawyer in the family so that I could ask questions.’”

She set out to become that lawyer herself. Now that she’s achieved her goal, she says she’ll be able to provide the help that she had needed to women in similar situations.

“I knew I wanted to empower women,” she said. “But I needed a law degree.”

Jiron said she was drawn to Fordham because of its strong public interest program, which has set her on a path to achieving her long-term goal of doing civil rights work. With a bachelor’s degree in political science and French from Middlebury College in Vermont. Jiron has used her fluency in both Spanish and French to assist those who may face difficulties in accessing legal aid.

In particular, she recalled a client from the Dominican Republic she met at Day One who did not have strong English skills.

“We made a connection, and I think it was because I have this skill set that she doesn’t have, but yet she trusted me. Why? Because I speak her language and I look like her, and my mother had been in her situation,” she said.

After she graduates this month, Jiron will embark on a two-year Equal Justice Works Fellowship. With Day One, she has created the Single Mother Empowerment Project, through which she will represent young mothers from immigrant communities.

As with all her legal work, the fellowship will help her carry out her beliefs about using her abilities to help others.

“If I can make one person’s life better, I’m good,” she said,

“I just want to make a difference on an individual level because I know first-hand that everybody has a battle. Everyone’s life is hard in its own way.”

Nina Heidig

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