2023 COMMENCEMENT SERIES | Helping at home: New Marquette Law School grad to help asylum seekers in native south Texas

Aimeé Treviño was 5 years old when she stepped into her first courtroom; with wide eyes she witnessed her uncle being inducted as a city commissioner. The moment planted a seed and she recognized her calling.

“I thought the courthouse was the coolest place on earth. It was like my Disney,” Treviño says.

In the courtroom, front and center, she remembers seeing a Latina judge.

“I was just so excited that there was a woman sitting there in her robe. She had all the power in that room,” Treviño says. “Everyone was amazed to see her, and they respected her. I knew in that instant that I wanted to do something in the legal field.”

Twenty years later, Treviño is taking a major step toward accomplishing her dream.

Born in Brownsville, Texas, the soon-to-be Marquette Law School graduate was raised in a single-parent household by her mother, learning early on that women can be powerful and make a big impact on the world.

“My family is what drives me to succeed and do well in life. They are my backbone and are the reason behind the goals I’ve set for myself,” Treviño says.

She has always been proud of her Mexican American heritage, but because her home was along the U.S.-Mexico border, she witnessed many social injustices, from issues with immigration to socioeconomic status to education. Her experiences near the border shaped who she is today.

“It’s very different in our little bubble in south Texas as opposed to the rest of the country,” Treviño says. “I believe it’s a microcosm of what’s happening in larger cities and how Latinos are being treated elsewhere.”

Although she’s spent the past three years at Marquette Law School, far from home and the people she loves, she says the sacrifice will be worth it in the end.

“When I go back home after graduation, I will be doing children’s asylum cases. I didn’t necessarily see myself in that specific role, but I did see myself being a voice for people who don’t have a voice,” Treviño says. “I left home so I could come back and make this community better with all of the outside resources I’ve learned in other places.”

Angela Schultz, Marquette Law School’s assistant dean for public service, says Treviño has all the qualities to make a great public interest lawyer.

“She genuinely cares about people and listens carefully with interest,” Schultz says. “She also thinks about the power and privilege that comes with being an attorney and decided at the outset of her career to apply that to populations with barriers to access to justice.”

While at Marquette, Treviño served as a student volunteer with Marquette Volunteer Legal Clinics, setting aside time to work without pay or academic credit for low-income people in need of legal advice. In her second year, she was awarded a Public Interest Law Society fellowship, which funded a summer of work in Washington, D.C., as a litigation intern for the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund. She is also a member of the Law School’s Pro Bono Society for her extensive pro bono work.

“I haven’t been able to visit my family much since starting law school. It’s a 22-hour drive to Brownsville and a five-hour flight. So, because I don’t get to see them often, every time I go back home, I’m reminded why I left — so I can come back and make this community a better place,” Treviño says.

After graduation, Treviño will immediately study for the Texas Bar Exam with plans to work for the South Texas Pro Bono Asylum Representation Project in Harlingen, Texas. ProBAR, as it’s known, serves the legal needs of immigrants in the Rio Grande Valley border region with a focus on adults and unaccompanied children in federal custody.

“I often hear people say life is a marathon, not a sprint. But in my experience, it’s more like a relay race with each generation passing the baton to another,” Treviño says. “It is on me to make sure the generation that comes after me has more opportunities and a chance at a better life. The baton is in my hands now.”

‘Helping at home’ is the latest piece in Marquette Today’s Commencement Series. Read more stories of how our graduates are setting off to Be The Difference beyond campus: