By Jesus Carreon ’25

My story, like many first-generation immigrants, began with humble beginnings. My early years in Mexico were painted with the simple pleasures of life—rolling in the mud with my sisters, holding my mother’s hand through our hometown, and occasionally feeding ducks in the park. These moments of innocence, however, were abruptly overshadowed by our move to the United States, propelled by my single mother’s determination to protect me and my sisters. This pivotal moment was not merely a geographic shift, but the start of a profound transformation marked by resilience, ambition, and a budding passion for justice that would eventually lead me to Harvard Law School (HLS).  

My formative years in San Bernardino, California were fraught with hardships, from living in cramped quarters to facing the constant fear of deportation. Amid these challenges, my dedication to education and an unwavering work ethic emerged as my beacon of hope. My path was paved with relentless effort, numerous jobs to support my family, and an evolving dream to advocate for those who share aspects of my identity. The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program provided the stability I needed to pursue this dream with fervor, leading me to the esteemed halls of HLS. 

At HLS, my commitment to immigration law and advocacy found its true calling. I have seized every opportunity to deepen my understanding and contribute to the field, starting with my involvement in the Harvard Immigration Project (HIP). Through HIP, I engaged in research and outreach efforts aimed at supporting Central American minors, a cause close to my heart. This experience not only enriched my knowledge but also connected me with a community of like-minded individuals passionate about making a difference in the lives of immigrants.  

My journey at HLS took a more practical turn with my role in the Harvard Immigration and Refugee Clinic (HIRC). As a student attorney, I was entrusted with conducting sensitive trauma interviews, assisting migrants with complex documentation, and directly engaging in the legal advocacy process. This hands-on experience in HIRC was instrumental in honing my lawyering skills and deepening my understanding of immigration law. It also offered me the invaluable opportunity to evaluate asylum claims, participate in bond hearing motions, and contribute to efforts aimed at expanding work authorization eligibility for undocumented individuals. 

Beyond the confines of HLS, my commitment to immigrant advocacy extended to my participation in the Instituto Para las Mujeres en la Migración (IMUMI) in Mexico City as a Cravath Fellow. Witnessing the struggles of transnational families and migrant children living in precarious conditions reinforced my resolve to share my personal journey and inspire others in the immigration space. 

My time at HLS, enriched by my involvement in HIP and HIRC, has been a period of profound personal and professional growth. It has sharpened my legal acumen and fortified my resolve to fight for immigrant rights. These experiences have underscored the essence of the American Dream for me—not just as a personal achievement, but as a source of inspiration for others navigating similar paths. Now, with the wealth of knowledge and experience HLS provided me, I am determined to bring these insights back to California, where the need for resources and support for immigrants is acutely felt. My goal is to utilize my skills and experiences to advocate for immigrant rights and ensure that families navigating the immigration system have access to the necessary support. 

Through dedication, resilience, and the support of programs like DACA, I have come to embody the possibility that indeed, no obstacle is insurmountable for a determined heart. My journey from Mexico to Harvard Law School stands as a testament to the power of opportunity, education, and the enduring spirit of the immigrant dream. 

Filed in: Clinical Student Voices

Tags: Class of 2025, Harvard Immigration and Refugee Clinical Program, Harvard Immigration Project

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