Last fall, Francisco "Paco" Perez was sworn in as a Foreign Service officer, realizing a childhood dream to travel the globe while making a difference in peoples' lives. His first posting will be in Matamoros, Mexico, as a consular officer.
Perez ('08) returned to his home state to attend the UNM School of Law, after earning an undergraduate degree in International Business at the University of Tampa. At Tampa, he served as one of the first Hispanic student government presidents of the university and developed an interest in politics, working on three political campaigns.
Back in New Mexico, he took and did not pass the Foreign Service exam twice. Then, after completing two internships with the Department of State, a study-abroad program in Portugal and receiving a wealth of legal knowledge, he finally passed the exam during his final year of law school.
"If it weren’t for the countless student organizations, the extensive variety of excellent professors and the endless support network of the UNM Law familia I would never have made it," he says.
Following graduation, Perez volunteered for the Barack Obama presidential campaign. In August, he was awarded a fellowship with the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute in Washington, D.C., where he was an international public policy fellow on the Congressional Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere.
"After reading case after case from our textbooks, the opportunity to sit in the audience of a real live Supreme Court case brought everything into context," he says. "To watch Congress debate a bill on the floor and to listen to congressional hearings firsthand was unbelievable." He also attended President Obama's inauguration ceremony.
Now he is poised to make another move.
"In my Hugh Muir Oath project as a 1L, I pledged to never forget where I came from or what motivates me. I look forward to the challenge of having a positive impact on the lives of fellow Americans and Mexicans who have suffered so much," says Perez. "I am so grateful to the UNM School of Law for giving me and all my classmates the opportunity to develop our advocacy skills while holding true to our ideals."
Perez also notes a plethora of jobs in Washington, D.C., including openings in the Foreign Service and urges his classmates to take the free exam. "If I can do it, so can anybody."
In the photo: Perez strikes a pose with Honduran President Manuel Zelaya, the first head of state he has met. He met President Obama before he was elected president.