Finding a Home
After several years teaching middle school at San Jose’s Sacred Heart Nativity Schools for children from low income and immigrant families, Karla De La Torre ’09, J.D. ’14 felt she was ready to tackle law school. “I was meeting often with my students’ parents and referring them to outside legal resources. I thought, ‘I want to be that resource. I want to be someone they can turn to.’”
There wasn’t ever really a question of where she should go: Santa Clara University, where she earned her bachelor’s degree in political science. “It’s hard to leave this place,” jokes De La Torre, who just published a book of poetry and essays and works at SCU as an adjunct professor and admissions counselor following a stint as a litigation attorney in Santa Clara County.
For De La Torre, SCU represents a welcoming community, one she wasn’t always sure was accessible to her growing up in an undocumented immigrant family who’d come to the U.S. when she was four years old. “In high school, I realized that being undocumented was going to be a huge barrier to my education and career goals,” she says. “But I knew Santa Clara had an accepting atmosphere. That made me less anxious to apply here and talk to people about my status. I was able to thrive here.”
That’s why, when deciding at the very young age of 30 to establish a Living Trust for the portion of the home she owns with her parents, De La Torre designated Santa Clara Law’s Undocumented Students and Allies Association Fund as a beneficiary.
“The community gave me so much while I was a student here,” she says. “My gift to Santa Clara is my way to give back to that community. I can help the University grow and help foster that sense of community in future students.”