Major: Paralegal Studies
Brenda Medina always had a passion for law.
However, unsure of what path to follow, she initially chose College of DuPage because of its cost and location close to home.
“I was raised with four sisters and a single mother, so we were not able to afford to send me straight to a university that would cost us thousands,” she said. “I am beyond grateful to have not done this right out of high school. At that time, I had no idea who I wanted to be. I thankfully stayed close to home and studied here, where I found my passion.”
This happened when Medina learned about the paralegal profession and discovered the Paralegal Studies program. Already in her second year at COD and finishing her general education requirements, she immediately started with a legal drafting class.
“When I began my learning process of reading legal documents and writing some of them, I knew this was for me,” she said. “Since then, my passion for law only grew. I was so inspired by my teachers and all the resources we had at school that would grant us the chance to succeed. In fact, students are provided with so many resources that I would have felt guilty if I had not taken advantage of them. A few things that helped me grow professionally were the career fairs, professional photographers taking our pictures for LinkedIn, and the Learning Commons. I need to give a huge shout out to all the employees at the Learning Commons who helped me get through my assignments and for being extremely patient with me as I learned.
“When we had classes in person, we took some astonishing fields trips to places that allowed us to see all the different positions you can hold. The Paralegal Club also encourages students to learn about them through speakers from different fields who would tell us about their passion and their careers.”
While at COD, Medina received a scholarship through the Paralegal Student Emergency Relief Fund.
“It was during the middle of the pandemic, and I was not making the same income as I had before. I struggled paying some bills and for school supplies but when I applied for the scholarship, I was granted a generous amount that helped me back on my feet.”
After graduating with her Associate in Applied Science degree, Medina will work at an immigration law firm, where she originally applied to become the office administrative assistant but was offered a paralegal position because the current paralegal is leaving.
“It is my dream and a heart-felt passion to work for the people who are trying to do what is best for themselves and their children by coming into our country,” she said. “My parents and grandparents are immigrants from Mexico. I know what it is like to struggle and work hard for the things we deserve in this life. I hope and pray that as I take this position, I can help the law firm make a significantly positive impact on the people we work for and help them reach what my parents were blessed with, which is a great welcome to America to provide a better life for their children.”
Medina’s advice to students considering the Paralegal Studies program is to keep an open mind and not be afraid to ask questions.
“Law is ever-changing and every class you pick, you will learn something new,” she said. “That is the best thing about law: Everyone knows their interpretation of the facts until they hear from someone else, which encourages deeper thought about it. Personally, COD helped me gain all the confidence I needed to ask questions without feeling guilty for not knowing the answers and helped me overcome my fear of voicing my opinions or ideas. My teachers always allowed me to express myself during class discussions and the students were amazing at listening to all the opinions in the room.
“COD helped me improve my skills in everything, whether I was taking a general math class or my litigation class. I was blessed to have teachers who are not your regular teachers. They are lawyers or judges who, most importantly, are passionate about their careers, and that made the world of difference to me. They really encouraged me to try my best to be just like them. I always hype up the fact that I had a DuPage County judge as a teacher, so why would anyone ever want to miss that chance?
“The Paralegal Studies Program is lovely, to say the least. I am and will always be excited to share how amazing College of DuPage was for me.”