Volunteer work helps student find her calling


By Ben Matukewicz, Contributor

This special section of the Gateway, which features stories on UNO students and faculty who volunteer, was submitted by  the School of Communication’s “News Writing and Reporting” students, under the supervision of Professor Kevin Warneke.


Most college students earn degrees for the career they need. UNO senior Roxana Cortes is earning degrees for the career that needs her.

Cortes sports a triple major at UNO, studying psychology, Latino studies, and Spanish. She plans to become a criminal immigration, or “crimmigation,” attorney. Cortes will attend law school at the University of Nebraska College of Law in August.

Yet most of Cortes’ preparation for her career takes place outside the classroom.

Cortes spends much of her time helping others by volunteering with numerous organizations.

“I enjoy seeing what I do for others having an effect and making a difference,” Cortes said. “Volunteering brings a lot of good things to my life. I have gained a lot of experience.”

Cortes has been volunteering since high school. She first volunteered at church, teaching a Bible Study course. Cortes said meeting families had a big effect on her.

She felt a need to make a difference in their lives.

“It makes you ask what you can do,” Cortes said.

Cortes aked what she could do, keeping an eye out for opportunities to help others. She said most of the volunteer work she started doing was spontaneous.

Sometimes, she was informed of opportunities, other times she just wanted to help.

One of the opportunities that presented itself to Cortes was volunteer work at Our Lady of Guadalupe parish. Cortes said an announcement was made regarding a clinic that would help families get proper legal services. She asked if Our Lady of Guadalupe needed her help, and she wound up joining the cause.

Cortes spends two hours a week at the parish volunteering. She observes attorneys to get a feel for what a client consultation is like. Many families come that cannot afford services. Cortes said she does whatever she can to help out.

“If we don’t have the ability to help them, we refer them to other trusted people that can,” Cortes said.

Cortes has also assisted with information sessions throughout the area that educate people about immigration laws. She said with new laws dealing with immigration coming about, it is important to inform and educate people.

Cortes helped prepare information for the events that ended up working with 40 clients.

Seeing the impact she makes on those she helps is her biggest reward.

“I see the reward every day in my work,” Cortes said.    

Her volunteer work directly lead to her choice of majors and career path.

Cortes said the fact that she is knowledgeable in the culture and in criminal defense was proof that this was the job for her. She wants to one day return as an attorney to serve the people she has helped through volunteering.

Cortes’ experience have shown her that this is her calling.

“This is why I need to be here,” Cortes said. “This is why I need to go to law school.”