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First gen grad finds success in law school

Alumni Sep 30, 2021
A man smiles for a picture
A man smiles for a picture

KOKOMO, Ind. – Never be afraid to fail.

Victor Mora lives his life by this philosophy.

As the first in his family to earn a college degree, he continues to challenge himself to achieve more and reach for new goals.

“It’s better to try and fail than to never try,” said Mora, a 2018 Indiana University Kokomo graduate, who is now a second-year law student at the IU McKinney School of Law in Indianapolis, with plans to graduate in May 2023.

He’s learned along the way there are people willing to help, if he asks.

“Everybody really wants to help and see you succeed,” he said. “That’s true at IU Kokomo and in law school. All the professors, all the people I have met are open to questions and giving advice, or connecting you to people who can help.”

He jumped several hurdles to get to where he is today, especially as a first-generation college student, and was able to earn degrees in business management and finance/economics, with a minor in Spanish.

“It was a little scary, to be honest,” he said. “There are always a lot of questions you have to figure out on your own. That can be difficult when you don’t have someone to ask at home. There were also questions I didn’t even know to ask, that made everything a little more daunting. It was a good experience. I learned I was up to the challenge.”

The success he had at IU Kokomo motivated him to move forward with his dream of being a lawyer, after two years of working and starting a Master of Business Administration.

“I realized the master’s degree I had started was more of a Plan B, in case law school didn’t work out,” said Mora, from Frankfort. “When you don’t really know the options or the process of doing things, you really have to do a lot of research.”

Several IU Kokomo experiences prepared him for law school, including Enactus, a student organization for business students, as well as the Spanish Club. J.R. Pico, senior lecturer in Spanish, guided him through his transition to college, and Scott Blackwell, lecturer in philosophy, tutored him in Law School Admissions Test (LSAT) preparation.

He also attended meetings on campus with McKinney School of Law admissions staff, where he learned more about the program and how it might work for him.

“It was a good first step, being able to meet people from the law school,” he said.

After being admitted, he was invited to be part of Indiana Courts Legal Education Opportunities (ICLEO) Summer Institute, a residential preparatory program to help underrepresented students excel in law school, and increase diversity in the legal community. It immersed him in first-year law school curriculum, to give him a taste of what to expect.

“There’s definitely a bit of a learning curve,” he said. “My first semester, there were a lot of struggles with just understanding the best way to study and dealing with only having one exam at the end of the course.”

He became more comfortable as a law student and joined the Hispanic Law Society, hoping to be a role model to those to follow.

“I want to give the same kinds of opportunities I have been given,” he said. “I can share my story, to show that success is possible, and connect them with people who can guide them, too.”

Education is KEY at Indiana University Kokomo.

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