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Growing up in Farmington, the oldest of three children, DeAnza Valencia never could have imagined that one day she would be classmates with her younger brother, Joseph. Considering there are eight years between them, she was out of the house before he had made it through grade school.
But last August, when she entered her second year at the UNM School of Law, so did Joseph, who had transferred from the Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law at Arizona State University after his first year.
"It's really nice to have him here," says DeAnza, who spent the first week showing him around and introducing him to her friends. "At the end of the day, there is nothing like having my brother here, knowing what I'm going through."
Joseph and DeAnza are in two classes together: Business Associations and Constitutional Rights. While they happily share notes, they draw the line at studying together.
"We have different study habits and Joseph prefers to study alone most of the time," says DeAnza. "Maybe we will try studying together closer to finals."
But they can often be found going out to Rudy's for barbecue or somewhere else for lunch.
Both siblings earned their undergraduate degrees at New Mexico State University and DeAnza went on to ASU's School of Justice and Social Inquiry for a master's. Both also worked for U.S. Sen. Jeff Bingaman and DeAnza worked for the Arizona House of Representatives and the New Mexico Senate.
They both envision their legal education allowing them to made a direct impact on society: Joseph as a criminal prosecutor and DeAnza in public interest law. And they both plan to remain in New Mexico.
The family connection doesn't stop with them; their first cousin, Maria Martinez, is a 3L. But Joseph and DeAnza are pretty sure their youngest brother, Andrew, won't be following them: he is happily working in the insurance industry in New York City.
Already, Joseph can see why his sister loves the UNM law school. "Everyone is supportive and it feels like more of a community than a school system," he says. "And my sister is here."