Class of 2017
Hometown: Los Angeles, CA
Undergraduate: California State University, Long Beach
Major: Criminal Justice
Sylvia La Rose graduated in May 2017 and she received the The University of the Pacific Champion of Diversity and Inclusion 2017 Award.
When reflecting on why she chose a legal career path, Sylvia recalls her childhood, noting, "Although sports were a vital part of my life, so was arguing with anyone and everyone that presented me with a point or opinion I disagreed with. That's when my family realized I would one day be a lawyer; I always needed to make sure everyone knew I was right and why I was right. Following the label my family gave me since day 1 brought me here today and I'm loving every second of it."
Sylvia knew from a very early age that she wanted to become a lawyer, particularly because of her participation in a middle school mock trial competition. When Sylvia was in the 8th grade, she participated in a mock trial competition where out of 60 students, eight students would make the team so that four students would represent the defense and the other four students would represent the prosecution. Sylvia recalls the memory fondly: "we videotaped all our opening, closings and directs and then put on the mock trial in front of the entire junior high and faculty. I knew after the mock trial and cross examining the defendant on that stage that this is where I belonged. I never thought twice." Her desire to prosecute is still very much alive since Sylvia hopes to one day be working as a prosecutor for Sacramento County District Attorney's Office.
As the former president of the Criminal Law Society, she has taken on the role of SBA 3D Representative and president of Latino Law Student's Association. As a child of immigrant parents who knew little about the American school system, Sylvia had to figure out how to overcome her own obstacles as a student. Sylvia explains, "Spanish was my first language but not by choice. Though now as an adult, I have found that being fluent in Spanish is so much more beneficial than I could have ever imagined because of all the opportunities that have presented themselves thanks to the fluency of the language." Though heavily involved in the McGeorge community, Sylvia recognizes the challenges that have come with her law school experience, stating, "Law school has been the most difficult and rewarding thing I've ever accomplished."
After receiving her master's degree in Criminal Justice at 23 years old, Sylvia felt she was not ready for law school and decided to teach for the professional experience. Before attending law school, Sylvia taught both PE and Computers. While initially it was a difficult transition, going from teacher to student, Sylvia feels that her time at McGeorge has been the most rewarding experience yet.
When considering a law school, it is often very important to a student to feel the campus is a natural fit. Sylvia attests, "After visiting about 5 law school campuses, including top ranked schools, I did not feel at home in any of them but McGeorge. Despite this school being physically far away from my home, family and friends in Los Angeles, I knew I belonged at McGeorge because I did not feel more comfortable or at ease anywhere else, not even the LA law schools could make me feel like I was at home. The environment created by both professors and students when visiting campus made me feel like I belonged and until this day, in my 3rd year, that feeling is still very much there."
While she appreciates the sense of community McGeorge offers its students, Sylvia notes the best thing about attending McGeorge Law School has been the opportunities awarded to her. She affirms, "Between the Guatemala study abroad program where I got to experience and work in another country's criminal justice system, to getting the chance to intern at Sacramento County District Attorney's Office, the opportunities McGeorge has given me are ones that I never imagined myself doing. They are experiences and practical training that never in my wildest dreams would I have ever thought I would actually be able to accomplish. Now that I have though, I wouldn't change it for anything."