September 22, 2019

 

Dr. Michael Schwerner and the Class of 1961

Michael Schwerner Memorial Scholarship

 

Dear Dr. Michael Schwerner and the Class of 1961,

 

My name is Victoria Casarrubias, and I am a senior pursuing a Government major and Psychology minor. I cannot express my gratitude enough to have been the selected recipient of the Michael Schwerner Memorial Scholarship. As I start my last year at Cornell with renewed energy, excitement, and contentment, I am intentionally soaking up the opportunities, relationships, learning, and growth I am fortunate to explore at such a prestigious institution as provided by the generous Class of 1961.

 

I grew up in Boulder, Colorado, a beautiful town nestled into the foothills of the Rocky Mountains. With the support of my family, mentors, and community, I created the foundation for a life driven by ambition, compassion, and curiosity. I began taking classical piano lessons from a very young age and now appreciate the joy music continues to bring into my life. By developing an intensely competitive spirit on the soccer field, I forged a meaningful and greatly impactful mentor relationship with my coach. He encouraged me to use kindness, compassion, and integrity as the guiding principles of morality in my life. As such, I sought excellence in all aspects of my life, whether in academics, church involvement, choir leadership, or sport leadership. I strove to exert a strong moral character in each area in order to be proud of the work I did, as well as push critical thinking and reflection about my own actions.

 

Each of these particular interests drove me toward Macalester College for my freshman year. However, I very quickly realized that I desired more challenge academically, athletically, socially, and emotionally. Though I was excited to continue my soccer and music careers in Minnesota, as well as begin my running career, I knew I needed a larger university to push me into the uncomfortable space of growth. I applied and was accepted to the College of Arts and Sciences at Cornell, and I have not once doubted that I made the best decision of my life to continue my studies in Ithaca.

 

Upon arriving at Cornell, I was eager to get involved on campus. I wanted to make the most of the expansive resources and student body perspectives available. I tried out and was selected for Sabor Latino Dance Ensemble, a group that produces a concert each fall and educates the Cornell and Ithaca communities about Latino culture. I was later elected to be a Co-Captain and Choreographer for Spring and Fall of 2018. I was also selected to be a member of the Cornell Political Union, Cornellís preeminent nonpartisan political organization with a mission to spark discourse on controversial issues. I was delighted to increase my contribution to the union by serving as Vice President of the Great Society Caucus for Fall of 2018 and as Vice President of Recruitment for Spring of 2019. Additionally, I was fortunate enough to be able to continue my budding running career as a middle-distance member of the Varsity Track and Field Team. We compete in the Ivy League and Eastern College Athletic Conference during the winter and spring for the indoor and outdoor track seasons. Though the work can be immensely painful and sometimes defeating, I would never give up the deep friendships, learned discipline, and shared sacrifices we make as teammates and student-athletes.

 

This past summer, I interned as a paralegal at an immigration law firm, which solidified my desire to pursue law school with an emphasis in immigration. My fatherís side of the family is Mexican, and many of our relatives live in the United States with varying statuses. As a result, I have always been drawn toward immigration politics. I greatly enjoyed doing substantive work to protect and (hopefully) improve the lives of so many clients during this politically intense and polarized moment, but just dipping my toes into immigration law served to ignite a fire in me to realize my goal of becoming an attorney. As an attorney, I would be better able to support an underserved population, as well as understand how systemic change might be possible. In order to best serve potential clients and to connect more deeply with my Mexican roots, I hope to move to Mexico for about two years after I graduate before attending law school. I would continue working with law and immigration organizations during this time. Subsequently, I would strengthen my colloquial and professional language skills, as well as gain an understanding for Mexicoís policies and contributions to this complex and transnational issue.

 

My dreaming, self-realization, growth, and ambition would not have been possible without my Cornell education and the generosity of Dr. Michael Schwerner and the Class of 1961. I look around campus each day grateful to even be here in the first place, let alone without the preoccupation of an immense financial burden. With the support of Dr. Michael Schwerner and the Class of 1961, I have been challenged, strengthened, and renewed through opportunity and education, and thus I hope to be an intentional and moving source of good as I navigate my post-graduate years.