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Esmeralda Taraj and her family moved to America in 2001, when she was 11 years old. Esmeralda’s parents made the sacrifice to leave their home and lucrative jobs in Albania, recognizing that education and work opportunities would be greater for their children in the United States.
Before becoming a Legal Studies major at Becker College, Esmeralda attended Doherty Memorial High School in Worcester, Mass., graduating in 2007.
It was the American legal drama “Law and Order,” Esmeralda claims, which inspired her, at the age of 13, to become a lawyer. Ironically, a final high school history project during her freshman year made it possible for Esmeralda to write and present her first closing argument for a mock trial. She recalls meticulously composing the perfect closing statement to present before her classmates. It was then she knew for sure, that law was the career she would pursue.
Her goal when searching for a college was to find one that would best meet her requirements and expectations to make her dream a reality. Becker’s diverse legal studies curriculum impressed her, offering several options that included Family Law, Real Estate Law, and Contracts and Corporation Law.
Upon coming to Becker, Esmeralda soon discovered that its small class size, the accessibility of its professors and its internship opportunities, all greatly contributed to providing the successful learning experience she was looking for. She credits many of her professors and Becker staff members with enriching her life through their guidance and support. She states, “It was Professor Jim Maloney and Professor John Dorsey, who provided two very different teaching styles, that made me love studying law even more, which I didn’t know was even possible.” Then there was Professor Sheila McAvey, her English professor, “who made me enjoy writing.” She added, “It’s great when you love waking up for an 8 a.m. class.”
It was Esmeralda’s involvement in several of Becker’s student activities that introduced her to Director of Student Activities Jean Blackmer whom she credits with teaching her that “you can do anything you set your mind to.” She recognizes and appreciates Jean’s “kindness, willingness to ‘do anything for anyone’ and strong overall spirit for Becker.” Esmeralda believes that her involvement in such organizations as Habitat for Humanity, Student Activities Committee and Yearbook Committee, and the people she has met through them, have taught her many valuable life lessons that will stay with her forever.
With help from her advisor, Professor John Dorsey, and Director of Career Services Eric Saczawa, Esmeralda became a legal assistant with Murray, Murray and Richards, LLP, a local Worcester law firm specializing in family law, personal injury law and probate law. Also through Becker College, Esmeralda was accepted into an internship program with Lutheran Social Services of New England, doing legal research for attorneys representing refugees, non-citizens and those seeking asylum. The firm later offered Esmeralda the opportunity to work as a case manager. She is currently handling both jobs with the firm.
She is very proud of her college achievements, which include making the Dean’s list; receiving the D. Llewellyn Evans Scholarship and Leadership Award; becoming vice-president of the Student Government Association; serving as a staff writer for Becker Journal Online; and initiating a new club on campus, UNICEF at Becker College, which she served as president.
Having graduated from Becker in May, Esmeralda plans to continue her education and has applied to several law schools, including New England Law, Western New England School of Law, Massachusetts School of Law and UMass Dartmouth Law School. Though she does not yet know which school she will be attending this fall, Esmeralda does know that she will one day achieve her dream, thanks to her strong determination, her passion for law and those who have so far guided her along the way.
Esmeralda often recalls that very first closing argument she delivered to her high school freshman class, and looks forward to doing it again one day in a real courtroom.