Growing up Karen’s greatest desire was the passing of an immigration reform bill that would allow her to pursue a higher education in her home state of Virginia. Karen V. emigrated to the United States with her family from Bolivia at the age of five. Initially, her parents intended to return to their beloved homeland after a few years, however, it was the insistence of Karen’s elementary school teachers that encouraged her parents to stay and continue to support her future in the United States. Karen worked hard through her K-12 education while her parents did their best to support her and her brother through their academic endeavors. As a result of these efforts, Karen became an active member of her community and an honor student in her school.
At sixteen Karen became an active advocate for immigrant rights. However, after witnessing the 2010 failure of the DREAM Act in person, many of her personal goals seemed impossible. Despite the odds, she continued to work within her community by involving herself in the foundation of The Dream Project, Inc., Karen was one of the four students who worked in founding the Dream Project and is responsible for co-hosting the first annual dream summit. It was the numerous obstacles and lack of support she encountered through her own experience that led her to work with other students and community members to form the strong support and mentorship program the Dream Project provides current High School Students.
Despite the many barriers Karen faced as a first generation and undocumented student, she graduated from high school as a Valedictorian, with the International Baccalaureate Diploma, and was able to receive a partial tuition scholarship to Southwestern Adventist University. Karen managed to graduate in three years with a double major in International Business and History. During her college years, she also had the opportunity to intern for Senator Tim Kaine, the Center for American Progress, the Advancement Project, and The Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights. After graduation, she became the Project Administrator at NovaSalud, Inc., a community health nonprofit. Her diverse experiences allowed her to work alongside lawyers, community advocates, and policymakers who routinely integrate law and policy within their careers and reinforced her own interest in the legal field.
Currently, Karen is a second-year law student at Washington and Lee University School of Law. Her first summer she had the great honor of interning at the Office of Attorney General of Virginia and will spend her next summer as a Law Clerk at GHS, LLP., a San Franciscan Law Firm.
Karen continues to find ways to integrate her passion for justice with her legal studies and recently traveled with a Team of Legal aid volunteers, to Tijuana, Mexico in order to provide legal aid to the ongoing migrant and refugee crisis at the border.