Natalia Aranda Castro thought that when she moved to the Bay Area from her native Colombia, she would have to give up her legal career. But she soon found out that this wasn't the case at all. While taking English classes, a friend who was taking project management courses at UC Berkeley Extension told her about the Certificate Program in Paralegal Studies—and Aranda Castro dove in. Now a graduate of the program, she is working as a legal assistant/paralegal at Argumedo & Garzon Law Group in San Francisco, focusing on immigration law. "The fact that I'm bilingual has been really helpful," she says. "And having the UC Berkeley name on my resume is also something!"
What does completing the certificate mean to you?
I knew I wasn't going to attend law school here in the States, and this certificate gave me the skills that I needed. Without this program, my career would have been stuck. This was exactly the opportunity that I was looking for. Now I can talk about plaintiffs, torts, and statutes of limitations and I can compare those items with the knowledge that I have from Colombia.
What advice would you give to someone who's just starting out?
This is a the perfect start for those who are thinking about going to law school. It's also a great way for paralegals who have several years of experience to get leverage in their careers: Coming to this program will open plenty of doors for them.