Making a Difference in Los Angeles’ Neighborhoods and Classrooms

Jennifer Carreras

A Los Angeles native, teacher Jennifer Carreras ‘19 is attending Loyola’s part-time evening program with the aim of  using her JD degree to help children in need. By acquiring the proper legal knowledge base, Carreras believes she “can be the voice for people who don’t have a voice.”

Carreras first earned an undergraduate degree in music from U.C. Berkeley, and then a master’s degree in education from Claremont Graduate University. Since graduating, she has taught music to students in kindergarten through sixth grade at Martin Luther King, Jr. Elementary in Compton. Early on in her teaching career, Carreras began to notice what she calls students who simply couldn’t be reached. Oftentimes, she says, these students had an unsettled home life—some suffered from abuse, others had parents who’d been deported—and there was usually little she could do. “These students, they’re torn apart. They can’t concentrate and they have had such a hard start in life. I couldn’t help them—there were certain skill sets I just didn’t have.”

For more than a decade, Carreras toyed with the idea of going back to school to acquire the legal tools she felt she needed to effect positive change. Finding the right program—one that allowed her to continue teaching while studying —was challenging. Then she came across Loyola’s highly regarded evening program. In addition to the part-time schedule, Loyola’s work with the Project for the Innocent as well as the required 40 hours of pro-bono, legally oriented public service work struck a positive chord with Carreras. “It is very clear how invested Loyola is in social justice. That clinched it for me,” she says. “I had found the right program.” After graduating, Carreras hopes to become a public defender.  She’s interested in helping those who have suffered from domestic violence, but she’s also keen on assisting with immigrant rights’ cases too. Carreras is eager to start, and Loyola’s evening program provided the opportunity to create the career she’s always wanted. “With the dedicated faculty, the strong community of students and alumni, as well as the hands-on training, I know I will now have the skills to make a difference.”