16:21 PM

First-gen Legal Studies alum credits job with DOJ to UHCL preparation

Written by: Lauren Sawyer

The 2020 Covid-19 pandemic created many setbacks in people’s lives, but none of them stopped University of Houston - Clear Lake alumna, Vivian Quintero from achieving her academic goal.  Despite the unknowns, challenges, and adjusting to new norms, the Houston, Texas native completed her Bachelor of Science in Legal Studies at UH- Clear Lake in spring 2020 and got accepted into New England Law | Boston the same semester.  

 “I was making decisions blindly because no one I knew ever experienced anything like that before,” Quintero said. “Not only did the pandemic take away my experience as a graduate, but also as a future law student because I completed my first year of law school online. There were a lot of doubts.”  

When she was finishing her credits at San Jacinto College to transfer into a four-year program, she discovered that UHCL was the best fit. Upon enrolling, she utilized available resources that opened doors for her.  

 “UHCL has a unique introduction to the law that I could not find with other universities. UHCL offered the ability not only to learn about different areas of the law, but also offered the ability to intern at different government offices,” she said. “I interned at the Galveston County District Attorney’s office. I think aside from the academics, UHCL also offered professional legal experience.”  

 She added that (Associate Professor of Legal Studies) Vanessa Johnson influenced her and opened her eyes to many possibilities.

“Prof. Johnson is an attorney. Attending her classes and getting the experience from an attorney directly created that motivation to keep going and reach a level like hers,” she explained. “If it were not for Prof. Johnson, I would not have met Melinda Metz and Linda Telfah, who work at the Galveston County District Attorney’s office. They influenced me as well. They all opened my eyes to what an attorney can do for people.”

She said that her classes in the Legal Studies program were important, but her internship experience at the Galveston County D.A. really allowed her to see the power attorneys can have, and how they can use it for good.

“I would not have had that experience if Prof. Johnson had not opened that door for me,” she said.

Being Latina, Quintero knew how important it would be to have minority representation in the legal profession.   

“There is a space for everyone no matter their shape, background, color, or education level in the legal world. UHCL helped me see that through the opportunities they offer,” she said.  “The intense process with the LSAT exam and applying to numerous law schools to see who would admit me is very intimidating. UHCL helped remove that intimidation because of the resources that were given to me through the Legal Studies program.”  

She added that as a first-generation  Latina, and the first lawyer in her whole family, UHCL offered her everything she needed to succeed. “I could not have achieved that without the resources and assistance that were available to me,” she said.  

Quintero advises students to never settle for less. “UHCL offers so much more when you strive to ask questions and become more informed. I would not have known all about what the Legal Studies program offers if I had not reached out to UHCL directly,” she said. “They were more than happy to help me. UHCL offered me so much and more, and I am forever grateful for that.”  

Quintero currently is a court-appointed attorney with the Department of Justice, offering U.S. citizens legal support through the court system. She will be graduating from New England Law Boston this spring. For more information about UHCL's Legal Studies B.S. Program visit www.uhcl.edu/academics/degrees/legal-studies-bs