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  • Writer's pictureLa Voz Latina

Guilianna Berrocal Velez

Escrito por: Dulce Ortiz 馃嚞馃嚬

Headshot of Guilianna Berrocal Velez. (Diana Rivera)

Being two years short of becoming a lawyer in Peru, Guilianna Berrocal Velez decidi贸 comenzar

de cero y regres贸 a los Estados Unidos a perseguir su sue帽o de graduarse en una universidad


She is more commonly known as "Kamila," a nickname given to her by her mother and family

since she was a child, and uses her name differently depending on the situation, whether

professional or social.

Though born in New York, her family returned to Peru when Berrocal Velez was a year old. She

had a great life there, surrounded by family, friends, and the immersive culture the country had to offer. It wasn鈥檛 until the COVID-19 pandemic when she felt that image change.

鈥淧er煤 se estaba hundiendo de la inestabilidad pol铆tica y la recesi贸n econ贸mica鈥.

鈥淕racias a Dios, mis papas no han sido afectados como otras personas. Pero como quiero ser

abogada del bien, sab铆a que en el pa铆s en donde estaba hab铆a mucha corrupci贸n. No ve铆a un

futuro siendo profesional ah铆 como una buena persona.鈥

Having her pre-existing citizenship to the U.S., she went through the process of transferring to

UMD in 2021, selecting the school because it was closest to her extended family in the States.

When first arriving, Berrocal-Velez shares that it was rough, especially when it came to meeting

new people and overcoming the language barrier.

鈥淥ne thing is learning English in an institution in Peru and another is moving, talking, and

listening here every day - it鈥檚 a lot for me to process.鈥

The transition eased after joining different clubs on campus and working at the local Playa

Bowls, allowing her to find a friend group from similar ethnic backgrounds that provided her

comfort and a sense of belonging.

Con un plan original de estudiar gobierno y pol铆ticas, se cambi贸 para criminolog铆a y justicia

criminal despu茅s de haber encontrado m谩s pasi贸n y oportunidades en 谩reas investigatorias y la

ley inmigratoria.

鈥淐uando viv铆a en Per煤, no sab铆a la magnitud de lo que era ser Latina en los EE. UU. No sabia de

todas las barreras que hab铆an contra las mujeres y las mujeres Latinas. Las puedes sobrepasar

pero igual, siempre van a estar ah铆 sutilmente.鈥

This unique viewpoint inspired her to be a part of UMD鈥檚 first Latino Pre-Law Society,

established in 2024, which hopes to inspire and create safe spaces for Latinos with a passion for

law. As vice president, she is excited by the generative progress the organization has made.

鈥淐uando sea abogada, quiero hacerlo para ayudar m谩s estudiantes Latinas para que se sientan

c贸modas en una misma para que no le tengan miedo a nada y puedan derrumbar esas barreras

que existen. Es una meta que en Per煤, no se reconoce tanto, pero ac谩 s铆, y me siento muy

orgullosa de ser Latina.鈥

Upon graduation, Berrocal-Velez will be working as a legal assistant in a law firm and studying

through a scholarship program for the LSAT in October.

She鈥檚 thankful to everyone who believed in her, especially her parents.

鈥淭hey believed in me more than I believed in myself. And they are always the ones that had my

back for every single thing.鈥

Through their guidance, she has come to learn que 鈥渆res mucho y m谩s capaz de lo que crees que

eres capaz de hacer. If you want something, you just go for it.鈥

Overall, Berrocal Velez is proud of having taken the risk to come to the US, noting that 鈥渓a vida

es una, so why not?鈥 She adds 鈥淪in eso [dejar su pa铆s], no me har铆a la mujer que soy hoy dia;

mas confiada, sencilla, y con mucho m谩s deseo de progresar y ayudar a los dem谩s鈥.

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