Summer 2021 Intern: Aline Garcia-Lopez

When I started kindergarten, people would ask me, “Aline, what do you want to be when you grow up?”

Just like any other kid, my answer changed throughout the years: I wanted to be a teacher, then a dentist, then a lawyer. Until I got to high school. That’s when I realized I needed to start thinking about this in a serious way. I had the opportunity to take a forensics class in high school where I was introduced to the Innocence Project, an organization that helps to exonerate people who have been wrongly convicted. This organization helped me understand what path I wanted to take. I wanted to help innocent people, specifically people of color get the justice they deserve.

After high school, I chose to attend the University of Wyoming to study criminal justice. Freshman year was one of the hardest times as I struggled to make friends, and it took a toll on my mental health. I was so used to being surrounded by people I knew. However, after joining different student organizations, like M.E.Ch.A, or Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano de Aztlan, which focuses on activism as well as spreading cultural awareness throughout campus I was able to make friends as well as advocate for the Latinx community.

We worked with programs like WyoSayNo, which helped stop the Uinta County immigration prison in Wyoming from being built. We did this by writing letter to senators as well as attending peaceful protests.

Like the Innocence Project, the Wyoming Truth stood out to me. The nonprofit focuses on fighting injustices in the criminal justice system. I thought there is no better place to intern then a nonprofit based in my hometown. I wanted to come back to Jackson and fight for people who have experienced injustice with the law.

I don’t think I would have made it this far if not for my parents. Watching my parents struggle motivated me to work harder to do better. They taught me and my brother what hard work looks like. If they can succeed in a completely new country without knowing the language, then we can do anything.

As I grew up, my parents made sure we got everything we wanted—with some expectations, of course. Everything they didn’t have, they wanted us to have. They always explain to us how lucky they feel to be able to give us everything their parents couldn’t. They didn’t grow up with money; things like having food on the table or getting an education was considered a privilege. My parents never finished their education, so being able to give that to us was important. When I told my mom I wanted to further my education, she was relieved and super excited. I am now a junior majoring in criminal justice and minoring in sociology, hoping to graduate soon.

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