Latino Alumni Network

We're in the process of building a UC Alumni Latino Network. If you're interested in getting involved, please email Justin Gibson

Alumni Spotlight: Alumni Spotlight: Judge Marilyn Zayas

UC College, Major, and Anticipated Grad Year: U.C. College of Law, 1997

Title, Employer: Judge, Ohio’s 1st District Court of Appeals

Current city of residence: Cincinnati, Ohio

Your career initially began in the private sector. What attracted you to pursue a law degree?

As a teenager, I witnessed the impact that the courts and attorneys have on people’s lives. I would accompany my mother to court during her divorce court proceedings. Through that exposure, I experienced what it was like to feel like you are not being heard. It was this experience that formed the catalyst of my wanting to become an attorney and formed the basis of how I wanted to zealously and professionally represent my clients.

What initiatives, if any, do you plan to create to help the residents of Cincinnati?

When I was elected by the people of Hamilton County, I reflected on my life and realized that the exposure and opportunities that others have extended to me have inspired me, showed me a new perspective, or provided a new experience.

As a Judge, there are two community initiatives that are near and dear to my heart. We are taking the court to the community. In 2017, we held court in Anderson Township and Colerain Township, as well as U.C. Law School. We hope to expand the communities we come to in 2018.

It is also important to provide students the opportunity to visit and learn about the Court of Appeals. I am working with teachers to bring students to the Court of Appeals, and university student groups to bring students to the Court of Appeals.

In your view from the bench, what ways can Latino alumni support those who do not have access to educational opportunity?

It is important that Latino alumni share their stories; particularly the adversities that they have overcome. They serve as role models to inspire others to achieve their dreams regardless of their personal situation. It is also important that they seek opportunities to reach out to the next generation and help them on their path.

If you could offer any advice to freshmen on campus, what would it be?

I want them to know that their voice matters. It is through civic involvement that they will be recognized as an integral part of the community. Ultimately, the large percentage of Latinos in the United States will have little significance, if we do not engage in our community. If we are not represented at the table, the issues that we care about and that effect our daily lives, will be decided for us.

Student Spotlight: Laura Mendez Ortiz

Name:Laura Mendez Ortiz

UC College, Major, and Anticipated Grad Year: College of Arts & Science, Environmental Studies and International Affairs with a minor in Spanish. Graduating in April 2018

Hometown: Cincinnati, Ohio

Nationality: Colombian

Why did you choose to attend UC?

I was accepted into the Darwin T. Turner Scholars Program. When I attended their end of the year banquet my senior year of high school, I instantly fell in love with the program. Since then, it has truly become my home away from home. It was important for me to be surrounded by students who went over and beyond both in serving the community and in their careers.

How has your involvement with Latinos En Acción affected your collegiate experience?

It has played a very important role in my collegiate experience. Being part of LEA has given me a platform to advocate for Latino Students and to collaborate with different offices to enhance the Latino student experience. This organization jumpstarted my leadership development from the very start. In my freshmen year, I was provided the opportunity to head and plan my own event. At this event, I educated students about the realities and struggles of undocumented college students. That year I was awarded their Rafael Rennella Scholarship (a memorial award named after the co-founder of LEA) for my contribution to the organization and my commitment to the Latino community. I was also given the opportunity to collaborate with UC International to create a webpage that guided undocumented students in their admissions process. These and many other experiences through LEA has shown me how I can affect change. Latinos En Acción has also impacted me personally because I have formed some of my most meaningful friendships within this organization.

What are your career goals?

I am still exploring career paths. I hope to pursue a career that combines my interests in education, policy, and politics.

What makes you proudest to be a Bearcat?

I am proud of the connections I have made and the opportunities I have received at UC. As a first- generation college student, I am especially grateful for the mentors that have guided me through my collegiate experience. Their unconditional support and confidence has pushed me to go after goals that I couldn’t have imagined accomplishing. They have helped me establish the foundation for my future success.


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