1) What is your name, year in school, and post-grad plans?
My name is Tamara “Tami” Pérez Cantalapiedra, I am a 2L, and I am currently enrolled in a dual-degree program for a MA in Philosophy; I will hopefully graduate next year! Post-grad, I’m hoping to be an immigration/human rights lawyer. I’m not sure what my post-grad plans are yet. I see myself starting my career at a nonprofit and hopefully teaching in the future!
2) Can you give me a quick rundown of what LALSA is all about?
LALSA is a Latin-American/Hispanic student group. I like to describe it more as an affinity group, but we love opening events to everyone to share our culture. The purpose of this affinity group is to create a safe space, a home away from home. Our goal is not only to create a sense of community, but also to help 1Ls acclimate to law school in both professional and social aspects.
3) Why did you choose to lead LALSA?
At my undergrad, there wasn’t much of a Latino community. I remember back home, in high school in Puerto Rico, people would talk about how exciting it’s going to be to got to college meet Latinos all over the world and have a vibrant Latino community- and I feel like I missed out on that in undergrad because there wasn’t much of a community there. When I came to BC I felt so greeted and welcomed by so many Latinos; in fact, there were so many Puerto Ricans just in our class, which was kind of crazy in the best way! Having LALSA there my first year, really helped me get through 1L. I don’t know how I would have done without having a community like LALSA.
In the beginning it was kind of a joke that I’d be president this year; I was like, “No way- it’s way too much work. “The only way I’d be president was if I had a good E-board; and knew that running LALSA was not just gonna fall on me.” Most of my close friends ended up being in LALSA, and we loved being a part of it. All my friends wanted to run and it seemed like an easy choice. I saw it as an opportunity to create the same community I felt when I came in and maintain it for incoming 1Ls, and continue it for 2Ls and 3Ls.
4) What is your favorite LALSA event?
My favorite event last year was Salsa with LALSA. It was at a place called Havana Club. The first hour is a dance lesson from 8-9, and then from 9 to whenever is just a lot of music and dancing. We were taught Salsa and Bachata and we danced all night long. So many people came both in and out of LALSA, and there were drinks, catering, A COAT CHECK! We did a similar event on September 29th at Peka Restaurant to celebrate Hispanic Heritage month and it was so much fun!
5) What have been some difficulties in leading your organization, and how did you overcome them?
Unexpected budget cuts was definitely a difficulty; the E-board is great though, and we were able to make plan Bs, and still do a bunch of the events we wanted to do. Another thing is trying to get 1Ls involved early on. We had really great attendance at the first GBM and I think that was due to friendliness of the board in general, seeming approachable…we did a little “meet the Eboard” document that was funny. Last year we felt like we didn’t know who the Eboard was or what their roles were in the beginning; so we wanted to make sure people knew who they could talk to. It’s funny, the doc has 2 pics of each of us; one is a funny picture and the other is a law school Linkedin picture, and we put bios and blurbs including “go-to karaoke song”, “drink of choice”, “bucket list”, “what is a piece of advice to your 1L self?”
Shang: What was your advice to your 1L self?
Tami: Mine was to prioritize sleep; it was never worth it to stay up late reading. And you’re a person first, student second.
6) What have you learned from being a student leader, and do you recommend other law students to take up that mantle?
I’ve learned that it takes a lot to run an organization, and having a good E-board that you trust really is key to your success- which I am very thankful for. I would definitely recommend other students to be student leaders if they are passionate about it. But it’s not something you should do to add to your resume; this is a role that takes up a lot of time so you have to enjoy it. Don’t do it for just a title.
7) Do you have any LALSA members you want to give a shout out to? 😀
My E-board! Alberto Cabrera Rivera, Alejandro Rodríguez, Adriana Farías, Natalia Birriel, Nicolás López, Paola Bayrón, Patricia Garza. They’ve been so awesome and I couldn’t do it without them; they really are a huge help.
Seung Hye (Shang) Yang is a second-year student at BC Law. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.