rarely good to scream on an airplane. Amanda Moncada was on a flight
when she opened an email that made her feel like she could jump out of
the window and fly. Moncada had made it through her first year at the
DePaul College of Law and had a bold aspiration—she wanted to join the
DePaul Law Review, the college’s scholarly law journal. A little voice
inside her implored, “Could I make it? Maybe I could.” High above
everything, the email confirmed that her hunch was correct. She could
barely hold in that scream.
“It was a testament to my hard work,
and I thought, ‘Wow, I must be doing something right,’” said Moncada.
Her humble hunches and the “fervor to do well” have made Moncada’s
successes at DePaul exemplary. She is a 2014-15 graduate of the DePaul College of Law, which will celebrate commencement May 17.
grew up on the South Side of Chicago, and she was the first in her
family to go to college. When she started her undergraduate studies at
the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, she wasn’t sure what it
would take to succeed and her family wasn’t sure how to help. “But it
was more than enough to have my family rooting me on,” she said.
Moncada set out to simply do well in college and soon found everything
she needed was within her: intelligence, drive and a passion for
scholarship. She studied psychology and Spanish and graduated from U of I
with honors. After graduation, Moncada channeled her passion for
service into Teach for America and spent two years in Boston teaching
second grade. Yet DePaul Law was always on Moncada’s radar. Michael
Burns, associate dean for student services, had recruited her as an
undergraduate, and Moncada was impressed by the “tremendous support”
Burns and others offered throughout her time at DePaul.
faculty are so willing to help students when they’re struggling. Each
professor provided an open door, and I liked that very much,” she said.
Choosing business law
didn’t struggle for long. She went on to earn awards for excellence in
four of her courses and thrived as the managing editor of Notes &
Comments of the Law Review. “It’s funny. In the legal field, when you
give good work, you get more work,” she said.
taking lessons from the classroom and applying them when editing and
writing with the Law Review. The journal published Moncada’s article on
regulation, data breaches and the Federal Trade Commission’s role in
“In a journal, you’re bringing your own
voice to the law and suggesting changes,” she said. “It was an amazing
way for me to branch out and expand my writing skills.”
started to think about which area of law interested her most, Moncada
found her background in psychology had a lot in common with business.
She looked for a chance to work with people, solve problems and help
“Businesses interact with an end goal in mind, and
most of the time they are creating innovative ideas,” Moncada said. “As
an attorney, I can be at the forefront with them, thinking things
through, helping them bring their ideas to fruition.”
landed two coveted summer associate positions at top firms and sharpened
her business law experience. She worked at Perkins Coie LLP as well as
Sidley Austin LLP, where she has accepted a full-time position following
Trailblazing for other Latino lawyers
is proud of her Puerto Rican heritage and found support and great
networking opportunities within the Latino law community. “Being Latina
is a very big part of my identity,” Moncada said. “Latinos are few and
far between in the legal profession.”
She joined the Latino Law
Student Association and said she felt lucky that two prominent Latino
judges, Ruben Castillo and Mark Lopez, both mentored her. Castillo is
the first Latino to be chief judge for the U.S. District Court for the
Northern District of Illinois, and Moncada served as his judicial
extern. Lopez is an associate judge in the domestic relations division
of the Circuit Court of Cook County.
“Being coached by other
Latinos who’ve been successful in the legal profession invigorates my
passion to do the same. I want to trail blaze for aspiring Latino
attorneys and let them know I’m a helping hand,” she said.
Dad knew dream would come true
father always told her, “The world is yours. You can do anything you
want.” When she first confided in him that she wanted to be an attorney,
he told her, “Well, you’re going to do it.” She teased him and said of
course he thought that. He was her dad.
When the letter about
commencement arrived in Moncada’s mailbox, she looked at it and burst
into tears. She told her father, “Dreams do come true. I can’t believe
that I’m actually going to graduate and fulfill a dream I told you I had
so long ago.”
Moncada said she knows this is just the beginning
of a long career and a long journey ahead. “I’m so thankful for everyone
who’s helped me along the way, and I think I’m just getting started,”
Her dad has planned a string of events to celebrate. “I think I’m just going to sit back and take it all in.”
Story and photo courtesy of DePaul Newsroom. This is one in a series of stories about DePaul University graduates from the Class of 2015.