JACKSON, Miss. (WJTV) – Lizbeth Velasquez has been advocating for Hispanic Mississippians most of her life. It started when her mother and four other friends founded the Mississippi Hispanic Association when she was in college.
“And ever since then, I’ve been volunteering with the organization. It’s a nonprofit, and I’ve always worked with the Latin community. And growing up in Mississippi, I always wanted to fit in. But when I went to college, I think part of the like, you know, the self-discovery is just connecting with your Latin roots,” she said. “And I just started to volunteer more and more. And it got to the point where if I wanted to be a better advocate for the Latino community or an immigrant community, I needed a law degree.”
Velasquez got her law degree from the Mississippi College School of Law. She took the oath to practice law in Mississippi last week. Velasquez plans to use her degree to make a difference in her community.
“I’m going into immigration law. And so, I always say to myself, if I could just help a couple of families get, you know, their documents and legal status, like I would feel that that is worthwhile life. I would feel so fulfilled. And it’s getting emotional now. But that’s.. it’s very important to me,” she said.
Velasquez currently works for the Mississippi Immigrants Rights Alliance (MIRA). There are about 95,000 Hispanics who call Mississippi home. While the numbers are not as large as some states, Velasquez said it’s important to celebrate Hispanic heritage.
“Because that I think it gives you a different perspective being from two different cultures. You know, you can be American. I’ll consider myself being American overall culture, and then the Latin culture as well. And I think that gives you a different perspective that you can, you know, being bilingual, that you can contribute more. I think that enriches American culture overall, and I think Hispanic heritage and often just reminds you that diversity is good, and we’re more enriched by having different point of views,” she stated.