When Irasema Hernandez Trujillo '24 received a scholarship from the Lily Endowment that helped pave the way for her enrollment at Notre Dame, it felt like fate. Or a sign.
Trujillo was six-years-old when she emigrated to the United States from Mexico with her mother. She and her step-sister, Lilly, met when Trujillo and her mother moved in across the street from Lilly's dad. When Lilly visited, the girls played together and by the time their parents eventually married, the girls had become best friends.
"She was my first American friend. She lived with me. She taught me how to be [an] American girl. Everything she did, I did it. I learned she liked to swim, so I wanted to learn to swim. She learned to ride a bike, so I wanted to ride a bike," says Trujillo.
The two were close, so Trujillo was devastated when Lilly unfortunately passed away at age 16. Since then, Trujillo, a spiritual person, has been open to signs.
It was Lilly who introduced the idea of applying to Notre Dame to Trujillo, who didn't know anything about the University. But Lilly envisioned her sister here because of her calling to serve her community.
When Trujillo applied for and received a Lily Endowment scholarship, she took it as a sign.
"When I got accepted [for the scholarship], I was pulled out of calculus...and they took me to the guidance office. And my mom is waiting there with a congratulations sign," says Trujillo, recalling the special moment.
Next, she applied to Notre Dame in Regular Decision and was admitted.
Because of her experience emigrating to the U.S., Trujillo has her sights set on a career in immigration law.
"With many bleak holes, I believe the U.S. is in need of a new immigration reform. [I] want to become a leading immigration lawyer in America who will fight against the inhumane system in the nation while also providing accessible legal counsel to immigrants searching for a better life," she says. Her goal is to become "a leading female figure fighting for equality."
Trujillo will round out her education with experiential learning at home and abroad.
She will spend the second semester of her sophomore year in the Washington Program, where she will live and intern in Washington, D.C.
"I hope to cement my passions of either becoming an immigration lawyer, a human rights international lawyer, or possibly an elected representative," she says.
Trujillo was also admitted to the Paris, France summer program this year and will be taking two courses while living there, including one on post-colonial immigration in France.
On campus, Trujillo lives in Ryan Hall and is the multicultural commissioner for her Hall Council. She also joined Women's Boxing, which "is way out of my comfort zone and helps me get in shape," she says.
She also joined Ballet Folklorico Azul y Oro and became the social media coordinator for the Latino Student Alliance.
Trujillo knows her sister would be proud of her all she has accomplished so far. She's intent on taking advantage of everything Notre Dame has to offer while she's here.
Four years isn't a lot of time, she says.
"I mean, of course you have to focus on school and schoolwork and classes, which [are all] interesting. But I also think that you have to be able to figure out your passions, what you like, what you don't like. No other better way to do that than to explore, step out of your comfort zone, and try."
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Originally published by admissions.nd.edu on March 10, 2021.at