Why KU Law? Location + community

David Carrasco, L’16


David Carrasco, L'16Law school wasn’t on David Carrasco’s radar as a kid growing up in El Paso, Texas.

“In high school I didn’t think it was possible. I wasn’t the best student. I was just around a mindset where you didn’t look toward the future,” Carrasco said.

All that changed in college, where he connected with mentors and met like-minded students with big aspirations. “In college I saw people who looked like me being successful and thought maybe I could do that, too. I had an epiphany.”

As a student at the University of Texas at El Paso, Carrasco participated in a program designed to recruit and prepare minority students for law school called the Law School Preparation Institute (LSPI). He volunteered with Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA), assisting with Child Protective Services cases and advocating for children navigating the court system. He got involved with Empower, a program that worked with juvenile first-time offenders with mental illness. Carrasco monitored cases, kept parents informed of proceedings and mentored young people.

“I like the environment, the opportunities, the access. I just like Kansas.”

“I read about the Brown v. Board case and saw the impact a Supreme Court decision could have on social change,” Carrasco said. “In college, I learned lawyers do that every day on a personal basis, and it can have just as much impact on people as doing so on a national basis.”

It was KU’s location within easy commuting distance of both a major city and the state capital that drew Carrasco to Lawrence. Between Kansas City’s abundance of firms and Topeka’s state government offices, Carrasco knew the area held plenty of employment opportunities after graduation. Lawrence’s diversity was also a draw.

“There are a lot of international students, such a wide variety of people from different states and countries,” Carrasco said of the community. “I enjoy being surrounded by different cultures.”

Carrasco threw himself into law school during his first year, getting involved with Traffic Court, the Project for Innocence, Kansas Appleseed, which provides pro bono legal services for families, and the Hispanic American Law Students Association.

“You feel like you’re a real lawyer,” Carrasco said of his Traffic Court experience. “I met with a client, asked questions, gave oral arguments, prepared an evidence packet and exchanged with opposing counsel. I practiced my oral arguments. It encourages you to stay focused and see the endgame rather than get bogged down in details.”

Attending the school’s annual Diversity Banquet was a highlight of his first year. Carrasco connected with faculty and alumni and heard Jabari Wamble, L’06, speak about his journey from law student to U.S. attorney. “It put perspective on the forest that I was in at the time,” Carrasco said.

Carrasco’s first-year experience wasn’t without its challenges. Aside from the typical pressures of law school, he spent a year away from his wife and 3-year-old son. They remained in El Paso while his wife finished her nursing degree and their parents cared for their toddler. The hardships were worth it to be part of a supportive legal community that will prepare Carrasco for a rewarding and successful career. The family looks forward to being reunited in Lawrence, where Carrasco will finish his law degree and his wife will launch her nursing career.

Carrasco doesn’t know what the future holds, but he has no plans to leave Lawrence anytime soon. “I’m leaning toward staying in Kansas,” he said. “I like the environment, the opportunities, the access to them. I just like Kansas.”