Law student receives scholarship from Hispanic police officers

Sep 30, 2021

Judith Patricia Cruz Caballero, a 2022 candidate for a law degree at Umass Law School, has received the Hispanic Police Officers of New Bedford Law Scholarship.

The need-based scholarship is presented to UMass Law students of Hispanic or Latino descent. A group of 19 New Bedford police officers donate funds for the five-year scholarship that gives first preference to a Hispanic resident of Bristol County with demonstrated financial need.

“Being in law enforcement and members of the Hispanic community, we know firsthand the value of having strong legal representation in the criminal justice system,” said Sgt. Samuel Ortega of the New Bedford Police Department, who also serves as the department’s outreach coordinator.

Cruz Caballero plans to pursue a career in public interest law focusing on criminal or immigration law when she graduates. Currently, Cruz Caballero is the vice president for UMass Law’s Latinx American Law Student Association.

In addition, she continues to serve the community and develop her legal skills as an intern for the Massachusetts Department of Children and Families in Boston and as an intake member for the Telephone to Access Justice Center for the Texas Rio Grande Legal Aid, the nation’s second largest legal aid provider and the largest in Texas. 

Cruz Caballero states that working in these two organizations has allowed her to help community members who have a difficult time obtaining access to justice.

“As an intake worker, I help low-income individuals by guiding them through the process of obtaining legal aid through TRLA or by providing other resources that can help them obtain legal guidance,” she said.

“The scholarship is important to me because of the current economic situation of my family due to Covid,” added Cruz Caballero. “As a Latina law student, it’s motivational to know that other Hispanics are committed to protecting our community and enforcing our laws. The more we support diversity in our institutions, the better off our society will be in the future.”

In addition to supporting law students financially, the New Bedford Police Department offers mentoring and networking opportunities to scholarship recipients throughout the many agencies that comprise the criminal justice system.

“I am grateful to the officers for their service to our community and contributions to my education. I hope that, moving forward, I will make them proud,” Cruz Caballero added.