Linda Aguilera graduated from YES Prep Southeast in 2008 and from Midwestern State University in 2012 with a Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice. She then enrolled in Texas Southern University’s Thurgood Marshall School of Law. She is currently working at the Fort Bend District Attorney’s Office in Misdemeanor Court. She spoke to us about the impact her education has had on her family and how she leads her community.
How has your educational path impacted your family?
I know that my family feels that because I made it, they can make it too. My mom decided to get her GED. Every time she studies she thinks of me. When she gets tired and frustrated, she says that she knows I am watching, and she wants to finish just like I finished school. My younger siblings and cousins know that I am there for them. They understand that things won’t be as difficult for them because I can give them advice and show them how to go through the sometimes confusing college application process.
How did YES Prep prepare you for college?
If I would not have enrolled at YES Prep, I would have gone to school at Channelview High School. According to U.S. News & World Report, their college readiness index is at 21.6% while YES Prep’s is 84.2. But I really didn’t need the report to tell me I owe my success to the foundations I learned at YES Prep. I attended public school from Kindergarten through the eighth grade, so I distinctly remember the differences. Standards were low, and you could easily get by without doing much in school. When I arrived at YES, the learning curve was steep, and my grades suffered for it because the middle school I had previously attended had not prepared me for the work load, the studying, nor the learning.
YES Prep’s mission is “YES Prep Public Schools will increase the number of students from underserved communities who graduate from college prepared to lead.” How are you leading your community?
I would say that my current role embodies YES Prep’s mission. I grew up on the Southeast side of Houston until I moved to Channelview, Texas, a suburb east of Houston. My family, especially in my younger years, didn’t have much. I still remember our car breaking down, my mom working two jobs, and growing up without a dining table. If you told me then that I was going to become a lawyer one day I would never have believed you! YES taught me to lead. If I see something, I go after it. I have served as President of honor societies; I was appointed by our former governor to serve as the sole student representative on the governing board of my undergraduate institution; I have mentored students from underprivileged communities; and I often volunteer with various projects at my (now former) law school that help the homeless community. I have written articles that talk about the disproportionate impact the criminal justice has on minority children. I also currently mentor/coach a mock trial team at the Southeast YES Prep campus. I look forward to helping my community more once I have my license to practice law. I would like to volunteer legal advice on the weekends for charity organizations on immigration laws and policies. I am passionate about civil rights and how laws impact minorities, especially latinos.