Meet the Intern – Jessika Velazquez

Intern JessikaJessika is a law student at SMU and will be working with our Asylum team, conducting country research, attending hearings, and drafting motions.

Tell us a little bit about your educational interests.

I am a rising 2L at SMU Dedman School of Law here in Dallas, Texas. My interest in international and immigration law began while I was in undergrad at TCU and I became a member of the Model UN team. My participation on the team exposed me to the complex human rights issues and abuses occurring globally and reinforced my decision to go to law school because I love the idea of helping and making a difference in the lives of those who need it the most. After my 6-week internship with HRI, I will be studying abroad in Madrid, Spain to learn more about human rights and international criminal law.

What is the most interesting thing you have learned/experienced while interning so far?  

The most interesting thing I have learned thus far has been learning about LGBT rights globally. I know the issue is still very debated in the United States and it is still not an issue that most people are comfortable with speaking about, but conducting country research has shown me how much harder it must be for members of the LGBT community in other countries in South America and in Africa. Unfortunately, even more than those members in the U.S., these individuals are prevented from being themselves and discovering who they really are because it could essentially lead to death for them.

What are your favorite toppings on a pizza?

I am a very picky eater and I tend to stick to the usual toppings—pepperoni, sausage or bacon. But I am open to trying new things—maybe just a small bite!

Where might we find you on a Saturday afternoon?

On a Saturday afternoon, you’ll find me playing outside with my young nieces and nephews (or at one of their baseball games or ballet recitals). I became an aunt at a young age so I know the importance of not only having positive role models but also how important it is for kids to have someone they can talk to and trust. No matter where life has led me or will lead me, my personal goal is to be that role model for my nieces and nephews.

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