Dr. Marta Perez is driven by her natural enthusiasm for life but also by the opportunities to challenge herself and grow through education. When she arrived at St. Thomas Law School three years ago, she was already an accomplished community leader, having served on Miami-Dade County’s School Board since 1998. She also had Bachelor of Science in Education, a Master of Science in Computers in Education, and a Doctor of Philosophy.
Yet according to her fiancé, Chris Wolfe, Dr. Perez did worry she would be competing with younger students who had just left college and, unlike her, were still in the habit of attending classes and going to school. However, she forged on. “Failure was never an option,” said Wolfe; who added that Dr. Perez would drive to campus at 6 o’clock each morning to study for hours before her first class. Dr. Perez fully embraced the law school experience. She and Wolfe even attended the Barrister Ball each year!
The result? Dr. Perez booked three classes, graduated Cum Laude
this past May, and passed the Florida Bar exam on her first try. Wolfe explained that although Dr. Perez has no current plan to practice law, taking the bar exam meant completing the process. “For (Dr. Perez,) not taking the Bar exam (was) not crossing the finish line and not getting the job done,” said Wolfe.
Inspired by Dr. Perez’s demonstrated commitment to education and her dedication to public service (after all, she attended law school in order to better understand the many legal issues that came before the School Board), the St. Thomas Law administration decided a special recognition was in order. On Wednesday, October 16, 2013, St. Thomas University Trustee Stanley Tate, Associate Dean Cece Dykas, Assistant Dean John Hernandez, Assistant Dean Peter Kelly, and Outreach Coordinator Teresita Chavez Pedrosa surprised Dr. Perez at a Dade-County School Board and presented her with a plaque. Dr. Perez had no idea what the St. Thomas Law administration, her fiancé, and staff had been plotting and hence was visibly touched. St. Thomas Law School is “a little treasure,” Dr. Perez told community members, the media, and others in attendance. She shared personal stories about how Tate, Dykas, Hernandez, and Kelly each had contributed to her success as a law student.
Also at this meeting, St. Thomas Law School recognized another accomplished alumna: Miami-Dade School Board Member Raquel Regalado.
CAMPUS-WIDE EFFORTS AT COMPREHENSIVE IMMIGRATION REFORM
Over the last several weeks, members of the Law School have engaged in a series of efforts, alongside Campus Ministries, to encourage dialogue and support passage of Comprehensive Immigration Reform legislation in Congress. Last June, the U.S. Senate, by a broad bipartisan vote of 68-32, passed S. 744, comprehensive legislation, which includes a DREAM Act for individuals brought here by their parents when they were young (“the DREAMers”), a 13-year pathway to citizenship for most of the other undocumented, and much-needed reforms to the family-based and employment-based immigration system. The bill has encountered obstacles, however, in the House of Representatives.
On October 17, 2013, UCLA Law Professor Hiroshi Motomura, a renowned expert on immigration law and policy, gave a Distinguished Speaker presentation in the Law School’s Moot Courtroom to an overflow crowd, entitled Comprehensive Immigration Reform: Getting from There to Here and Beyond
. Professor Motomura entered into a dialogue with students, faculty, and staff regarding the backdrop to immigration reform, the content of the pending bill, and obstacles to its passage. His talk was one of the first in a series of events sponsored by the University’s Immigration Reform Initiative Committee, led by Father Luis Rivero and Claudia Herrera of Campus Ministries, which includes several members of the law school community. Professor Motomura’s talk can be streamed from the Law School’s webpage at www.stu.edu/law
On October 30, 2013, in Convocation Hall, the University held Face to Face: A Dialogue on Comprehensive Immigration Reform
where Professor Lauren Gilbert offered a 14-minute Crash Course on Comprehensive Immigration Reform, and two students and a parent gave their testimonials, including a DREAMer and the parent of a DREAMer. U.S. Congressman Mario Diaz-Balart’s District Policy Director, Lourdes Cosio, and members of the student group SWER (“Students Working for Equal Rights”) also attended. A short film demonstrated campus-wide support for immigration reform and Father Rivero ended with a talk on Catholic Social Teaching and the Catholic Church’s official position in support of comprehensive reform and a pathway to citizenship for the undocumented. For further information about how to become more involved in these initiatives, you can contact Father Luis Rivero from Campus Ministries at firstname.lastname@example.org
or Professor Lauren Gilbert at email@example.com
On Wednesday, November 6, Professor Alfred Light
’s Environmental Law Practice class visited the S-9 Pump Station (the subject of South Florida Water Management District v. Miccosukee Tribe of Indians, 541 U.S. 95 (2004)) adjacent to Everglades Holiday Park in Broward County. After an airboat ride through the Water Conservation Area west of the pump station, the District’s lawyer James Nutt and the pump station operator conducted a tour of the station and discussed the ongoing litigation challenging the EPA’s water transfer rule growing out of the Supreme Court decision.
Professor Anthony Musto
will be the speaker at Nova Southeastern University Law School Public Interest Law Society meeting on November 13, 2013.
Professor Marcia Narine
spoke on October 16, 2013, at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce event in Washington, DC, regarding corporate governance and proxy trends for 2014 on a panel with JP Morgan Chase, Vanguard, and the AFL–CIO. Professor Narine also will speak at the University of Oslo on December 6, 2013, on the U.S. approach to climate change and business as part of the Sustainable Companies Project. She will be presenting a proposal on using procurement, pay, and policy changes to affect climate change in the United States.
Professor Keith Rizzardi
just published "Redefining Professionalism: Florida's Code Mandating the Aspirational Raises Challenging Questions" in the November 2013 issue of The Florida Bar Journal.