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Maria Rodriguez ’12C

Advocating for Children

As a freshman, Maria Rodriguez knew she would pursue a law career one day. But when she learned about St. Vincent de Paul’s dedication to serving others, she decided to use her legal knowledge to focus on helping improve the lives of those in need.

“St. John’s mission of serving others inspired me to pursue a career in public interest law,” she said. “The University exposed me to the realities that vulnerable populations face and the importance of helping them.”

Ms. Rodriguez set her sights on one of the most marginalized segments of the population—immigrant children. After earning her J.D. at the University of Connecticut, she accepted a Legal Fellow position with The Equal Justice Works AmeriCorps Legal Fellowship Program, where she works with Kids in Need of Defense (KIND).

“KIND helps unaccompanied immigrant and refugee children who come to the United States,” she said. Her job entails interviewing children, attending immigration or state court proceedings, preparing immigration applications, and mentoring pro-bono attorneys. “Ultimately,” Ms. Rodriguez noted, “my job is to advocate for children—a population that is often completely silent.”