Personal Essay

By Emelin Boch Torres
Riverhead High School

As the first-generation eldest daughter of Guatemalan immigrants, I have always understood my responsibilities as the oldest child. This has helped me develop a keen eye for misconduct, not only in my household but in the world around me. As a protector, I approached any family conflict with patience and sought a compromise. Through this acquired mindset of compassion to combat injustice, I have recognized the continued burdens that are placed on Hispanic immigrants in New York. Much discrimination against Latino immigrants is constantly overlooked in the healthcare world, especially after the pandemic, to which my mother can attest to with the birth of my sister in 2020. My father remains the recipient of the most casual racism in supermarkets – the inability for evil to conceal their hatred baffles me every waking day. I observe the treatment of hispanic immigrant students with subtle condescension and disdain by school staff, which have granted me with an even greater responsibility – to pursue a career in advocacy and justice in my state through collaborative efforts.

As a North Fork resident, I am empowered by this community of service-oriented people who share similar goals and passions as I do. I strive to find a community of individuals who are in the pursuit for social justice for all, where we can learn the intricacies of our legal system and how to protect underrepresented groups in society. This basis of judgment will be enhanced through my knowledge gained at Cornell’s School of Industrial and Labor Relations, because of the distinguished courses of study that dive into the realms of work, employment, and labor in New York State and beyond.

My participation in my town’s Youth Court instilled a sense of motivation to familiarize myself with a courtroom, and find comfort in articulating my ideas in a public setting. Given the opportunity to interpret for Spanish-speaking clients granted me minimal insight on how intimidating legal matters may seem towards undocumented immigrants who seek citizenship or residency in this country – and soon my pursuit towards unveiling the silent Hispanic experience in law commenced.

Outside of Youth Court, I strive to make an impact in others lives because I have always admired the passion for service that I witnessed in my community. From peers in school to mentors in church, I saw a reflection of the very principles of my town – placing service above self. When I first joined the Riverhead High School Key Club, I immersed myself in the passionate atmosphere of motivated teens, who were just as eager to make a difference. The tiresome hours of setting up and hosting our annual Safe Halloween paid off every October, as we watched our elementary students enjoy their time at our high school. Blood drives that Key Club hosted will not be forgotten, as we successfully attained hundreds of donors, saving triple the amount of lives in the span of a couple of hours. In addition to Key Club, I pursued my musical talents in the chamber orchestra, where I was also able to lead as a first-stand Violist and cooperate alongside hardworking individuals as we prepared rigorously for competitions. Our collaboration in various activities will undoubtedly transfer my passion for service on to my college ventures, along with the aptitude for leadership that will guarantee success in my professional endeavors.

Ultimately, my areas of interest will evolve into advocacy towards all immigrant workers, while gaining valuable knowledge on national and international employment, and labor policy that will strengthen my understanding of political developments in immigration. In college, I will be given the opportunity to explore more domestic policies including education, criminal justice, social welfare and urban policy. The Youth Court program generated an attraction to the idea of becoming a lawyer, a profession where I would be able to combine my passions for writing and service in an environment to help people in my parent’s shoes. I know that my foundation in Cornell’s liberal arts curriculum would solidify my knowledge in social and political philosophy that can be applied to the fundamental courses taught in Law School. As a recipient of the Anne MacKay Memorial Scholarship, I will strive to honor the legacy of MacKay as a passionate and ambitious woman who sought to improve the lives of Long Island residents and beyond, not only for the Latino community, but towards LGBTQ rights, women’s empowerment, and all marginalized groups in society. The prospect of obtaining these goals ignites my passion for service which I shall pursue through my education and continued community projects that await.