Two EPCC students were recently selected for the Pre-Law Undergraduate Scholars Program (PLUS) at The University of Alabama School of Law. Criminal Justice students Evelyn Barraza and Adriana Franco were two of the thirty students chosen in the nation for this opportunity.
(L- R) Dr. Michelle Watkins, Adriana Franco, Evelyn Barraza, and Instructor Jeffrey Brockhoff
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The summer program focuses on preparing attendees with the skills needed to apply for law school. It prepares them for exams and informs them about other career options. Franco says that “Managing time during the rigors of law school will be one of the areas I plan to gain experience.”
Additionally, the courses will familiarize students with the American Legal System. Franco has stated that the program also offers law courses, excursions to the Alabama Supreme Court, and “they introduce you to influential people and alumni that are there to help you succeed.”
The PLUS program will take place from June 3 to June 29 at the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa. It will be free of charge and the program also offers a stipend for their living expenses.
Director of Diversity & Inclusion and Assistant Professor of Law in Residence, Daiquiri J. Steele says “the PLUS admissions committee was very impressed with both EPCC students. Approximately 72 undergraduate institutions were represented in the applicant pool, so for El Paso Community College to have two students selected is remarkable.”
Both students graduated from EPCC this past May with an Associate’s of Arts in Criminal Justice and plan to attend UTEP in the Fall semester. They will continue on to law school, where Barraza wants to work in criminal law and Franco wants to become a prosecutor.
For those interested in pursuing this or related degrees, EPCC does offer an Associate of Arts degree in Criminal Justice and an Associate of Applied Science degree in Criminal Justice and Homeland Security.
Professor Michelle Watkins, Ed.D and Instructor Jeffrey Brockhoff mentored and guided Barraza and Franco through their time at EPCC.
Brockhoff stated that he thinks “it is our job to help and guide students in achieving their long-term goals, both academically and professionally. I’m extremely proud of both students and of their accomplishment. They put in a lot of hard work for this honor.”
Barraza stated that connecting with professors at EPCC is most important and that all of the professors she has met, including Brockhoff and Instructor Brian Kirby, have contributed to her academic growth.
Franco also attributes her accomplishment to Professor Watkins, saying that “Ms. Watkins is one of the reasons why I was able to get into the program through her recommendation, and I can never thank her enough,” and she was very supportive and was the one who encouraged her to apply.
Both Barraza and Franco suggested that students who are interested in the PLUS program should definitely try applying for the program. Barraza says, “the PLUS program is specially made for those students who are unsure about their decision and takes them through the law school application.”
Franco expressed that the program has also allowed her to meet other people with the same interests and goals. She advises students to not be afraid or intimidated to apply.
Additionally, Brockhoff recommends students to look for any internships, volunteer opportunities, and programs like PLUS. Brockhoff says that “once they earn their degree, it will hopefully make their transition into the professional world much easier.”
Barraza exclaims that “EPCC is definitely the best place to start, engaging with professors inside and outside of the classroom can open the door to many opportunities. The staff really cares about their students and they are always willing to help students succeed.” EPCC wishes these two students the best of luck.