As a full-time student, a husband and a father of two children, Miguel Alex Centeno ’11, knows a lot about balancing priorities. His son, Baylen, 3, and daughter, Olivia, six months, keep his to-do list always at capacity. The secret to his success: “Coffee, lots of coffee,” Centeno said, “and a lot of hard-nosed discipline. You have a lot more responsibilities when you have a family to come home to at the end of the day. ”
Centeno receives a Pell grant, CAL grant aid and a Stafford loan that made it possible for him to attend college at Loyola Marymount University in California. This past summer, Centeno worked in an internship at the Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles as a recipient of a William Fitzgerald Summer Grant. The grant, funded by Professor Emeritus William Fitzgerald, supports student internships and volunteer opportunities.
“I’m very grateful to be at a university that pushes its students out of the classroom to get real-world experience,” Centeno said. “What good is college education if you can’t use it?”
LAFLA provides civil legal services to poor and low-income people in Los Angeles County. Centeno volunteered at the Inglewood Courthouse branch of LAFLA’s Self Help Legal Access Center. His responsibilities included completing legal documents and paperwork, and helping to determine client needs while working alongside a supervising attorney. Centeno found the eight-week internship to be educational and sobering.
“It was a very hands-on and raw experience. The legal system doesn’t accommodate people who can’t afford it,” Centeno said. “It was very touching and sad to watch people who didn’t understand the procedures or how to maneuver the complex legal system.”
Centeno’s plans include pursuing grad school and a career in the economics field. He credits Loyola Marymount University with providing him with the inspiration to achieve his goals.