BA in Sociology

Diana Mateo, 2018

Diana Mateo

Immigration Paralegal, Legal Aid Justice Center

The best part about majoring in sociology as the first step of my legal career is that it gave me a deep understanding of both the positive and negative ways that institutions socialize us to perform our many identities. This has been very important in my career, as I have diverse clients, including trauma survivors, whose stories I am able to sympathize with through my sociological understanding of their interactions with varying institutions, such as family, religion, peer groups, etc. Being able to sympathize has enhanced my capacity to work with my clients in a compassionate and patient manner, which is essential when working with vulnerable populations.

From a more academic perspective, my degree significantly improved my writing abilities and helped prepare me for the writing I do as a paralegal. Being taught to be concise has been significant when advocating for my clients, as Immigration Judges, officers at the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services, and other bureaucratic actors go through many written submissions for people seeking immigration relief. Thus, it is crucial for applicants to have people who write well for them, as framing their stories properly can be what ensures they are granted immigration relief.

Lastly, my sociology degree enhanced my research skills, and even though legal research is different than sociological research, the skillset I learned is still relevant in my career. For example, finding reliable sources and examples that demonstrate certain conditions of the Global South is imperative when advocating for the safety and immigration relief that my clients need. Sociology taught me to critically question and analyze many aspects of our world, and, on a professional level, critical questions and analysis has made me a better advocate in the legal field for the immigrant community.