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Six Questions with Professor Yolanda Vázquez


Yolanda Vázquez, assistant professor of Law, joined the College this year. She teaches in the areas of immigration, crimmigration, and criminal procedure. Professor Vázquez’ research examines the incorporation of immigration law into the criminal justice system.  Her scholarship has focused on the role of criminal courts and the duties of defense lawyers in advising noncitizen defendants on the immigration consequences of a criminal conviction.  Find out what makes Professor Vázquez “tick” in this edition of “6 Questions With…”

Why did you want to become a lawyer?

I wanted to change the world, or at least the conditions of those less fortunate.  However, I couldn't decide between medical or law school as the way to do it.  I worked in an emergency room while I was deciding between the two and determined that while a doctor can patch you up and even save your life, the individual went back into the same environment as before.  I thought that by being a lawyer I could actually change the conditions of someone's environment.  I don't know if I actually believe that the law can truly change the world or people's circumstances as I did before but I still try, just in case.

What sparked your interest in immigration law?

Honestly, I fell into it.  I was a public defender in a domestic violence courtroom when immigration law changed that made a conviction for domestic violence a deportable offense.  From that time, immigration and criminal law has continued to intersect and, therefore, continued to be a part of my life.

Why did you go into higher education?

Tupac stated, "I'm not saying that I'm gonna change the world…but I guarantee that I will spark the brain that will change the world."   I agree.

Who is your favorite lawyer of all time?

I don't have a favorite lawyer.  I have the deepest respect for those line attorneys who truly fight every day for the rights of their client, willing to risk their life and/or liberty for "justice."  Those individuals aren't famous but truly deserve our respect. 

What’s the best part about the law/being a lawyer?

I think it is the worst and the best--The law changes.

What’s on your bucket list?

I want to spend time in the Maldives; in a beautiful hut surrounded by water, lying in a hammock with a good book and no phone or computer.