My whole life my mom always told me I would be a lawyer, and my whole life I struggled with the notion of actually becoming one. Despite my best efforts, last year I found myself in law school. After my first year, I think I was still shell-shocked at the idea of being an attorney. But my time at La Isla changed my perception of what it means to be a lawyer and consequently what it means to grow up.

La Isla’s vision is an admirable one, but I think what makes the foundation so appealing is their unique and holistic approach to the CKDu issue. Every single staff member wants to hear your ideas, they want to see you grow, and they want you to know the people that you are helping in the process. Such a welcoming environment not only allowed me to feel right at home but also allowed me to push my own limits on what I thought I could achieve. I always assumed part of growing up and becoming an attorney meant accepting banality, but those three months working at La Isla proved me wrong.

Substantively, the work that I did at La Isla was both stimulating and challenging. The legal department’s main project over the summer was conducting a human rights survey to evaluate rights violations occurring in the sugarcane fields. My supervisor encouraged my team and myself to explore and think about the law in new and innovative ways in order to create an effective survey. Create is the key word of that sentence, I really felt as though I was an instrumental asset to the creative process and in turn had a more the hands on and meaningful learning experience.

In addition to the creative aspect, I was given the rare opportunity to oversee the development of the whole survey: from researching and synthesizing legal principles to writing the questions and assessing the data. The La Isla staff trusted my team’s instincts and allowed us to contribute our input throughout the course of developing the survey. Although the survey was hard work, it was a very gratifying experience for me – nothing felt abstract as it did during my first year of law school: My internship at La Isla gave me a first hand look of the positive influence the law can play in the lives of those in need.

Even if you are not pursuing a law-degree, the platform La Isla gives you will follow you the rest of your life. I look forward to the future and exploring the potential that the La Isla staff saw me.

Anastasia Butler