Garcia Mendoza, Eva Interview, 2018 September 25. OH-03484. [Transcript.] Oral History Research Center, Special Collections and Archives, University Libraries, University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Las Vegas, Nevada.
Standardized Rights Statement
AN INTERVIEW WITH EVA GARCIA MENDOZA An Oral History Conducted by Elsa Lopez Latinx Voices of Southern Nevada Oral History Project Oral History Research Center at UNLV University Libraries University of Nevada Las Vegas ii ©Latinx Voices of Southern Nevada University of Nevada Las Vegas, 2018 Produced by: The Oral History Research Center at UNLV – University Libraries Director: Claytee D. White Project Manager: Barbara Tabach Transcribers: Kristin Hicks, Maribel Estrada Calderon, Nathalie Martinez, Rodrigo Vazquez Editors and Project Assistants: Laurents Bañuelos-Benitez, Maribel Estrada Calderon, Elsa Lopez, Nathalie Martinez, Marcela Rodriquez-Campo, Rodrigo Vazquez iii The recorded interview and transcript have been made possible through the generosity of a National Endowment for Humanities (NEH) Grant. The Oral History Research Center enables students and staff to work together with community members to generate this selection of first-person narratives. The participants in this project thank University of Nevada Las Vegas for the support given that allowed an idea the opportunity to flourish. The transcript received minimal editing that includes the elimination of fragments, false starts, and repetitions in order to enhance the reader’s understanding of the material. All measures have been taken to preserve the style and language of the narrator. In several cases photographic sources accompany the individual interviews with permission of the narrator. The following interview is part of a series of interviews conducted under the auspices of the Latinx Voices of Southern Nevada. Claytee D. White Director, Oral History Research Center University Libraries University of Nevada Las Vegas iv PREFACE On the corner of 7th street and Clark, and beside the tennis courts of Las Vegas Academy, stands the law office of attorney Eva Garcia Mendoza. Eva has worked in her office since 1982, and in this time she has helped the Las Vegas community work through civil and immigration cases besides aiding in a myriad of other ways. Eva Garcia Mendoza was born in 1950, in the town of McAllen, TX—an environment that perpetuated hatred of Mexican Americans. Eva recalls the racism she endured; for instance, being spanked if she spoke Spanish in school, and her family facing job discrimination because of her skin color or her last name. Being an ethnic and financial minority was difficult, and Eva remembers nights as a child when she would cry herself to sleep. Eva showed resilience in the face of adversity as she states, “you rise to the level of your teachers’ expectations.” With the encouragement of her band professor, Dr. L.M Snavely, she began higher education at Pan American College. She moved to Las Vegas in 1971 and began to work before being accepted at UNLV to study Spanish literature. She graduated in the class of 1973. In 1975, Eva applied to become a court interpreter, a decision that would drastically change the trajectory of her career. She earned the coveted position and began to work beside Judge John Mendoza who was the first Latino elected to public office in the state of Nevada. Several years later John and Eva would wed. Judge Mendoza passed away in 2011. Eva talks about how extraordinary his legacy is—from his professional achievements to a story about his v football days and the 1944 Dream Team, this true story even piqued the interest of Hollywood writers. Through her work, Eva began to notice how she was more than qualified to become a lawyer herself, so she applied and gained a full ride scholarship to the Law School of San Diego University. Eva describes the struggles of attending school in San Diego while her spouse and children were home in Las Vegas. Despite the financial difficulties, being one of few minority students, and becoming pregnant her second year, Eva was able to finish her remaining university credits by returning to Las Vegas and working with Judge Mendoza. Together, they started the Latin Bar Association. Eva began her own practice in 1981 and would later partner with Luther Snavely, who was the son of her band teacher that helped her to attend college so many years back. Today, Eva has a new partner at her office and hired her son to work as a secretary. Eva also tells of the office’s mysterious history, of which includes a ghostly figure many clients claimed to have seen in the reception room. Eva recounts many of her professional achievements, such as petitioning to start the American Immigration Lawyers Association, Nevada Chapter, representing celebrities, winning the unwinnable cases such as against the Nevada Test Site. Eva talks about current events, such as today’s immigration laws, the discriminatory practices of revoking birth certificates from those born in Brownsville, TX., and about the importance of the #MeToo movement. Eva and her family have a great fondness for Las Vegas. The support for the Latinx community in Las Vegas greatly contrasts that which she experienced as a child in southern Texas. She describes wanting to take her children and grandchildren to visit her old home in McAllen, TX where her family grew up on the “wrong side of the tracks.” vi TABLE OF CONTENTS Interview with Eva Garcia Mendoza September 9th, 2018 in Las Vegas, Nevada Conducted by Elsa Lopez and Barbara Tabach Preface…………………………………………………………………………………………..iv Talks about parents’ immigration story; mother fled Mexican Revolution, father left for economic reasons. Mother married Eva’s father in McAllen, Texas; parents gained citizenship. Tells of racism; growing up Latina in 1968 Southern Texas; involvement in band…………..1 – 3 Describes second husband, late Judge John Mendoza, first Latino elected to public office in state of Nevada; describes John’s successful football career. Attends Pan American College on a band scholarship. Worked at teenage nightclub Green Flame. Moved to Las Vegas in 1971; job at City of Las Vegas, then Highway Department. Studied foreign language at UNLV………………3 – 4 Speaks about attending college in New Mexico and finally Las Vegas; graduated from UNLV in 1973 and began as a social worker. Later applies to be a court interpreter, meets Judge Mendoza; describes application process and earns position in 1975; talks about job responsibilities and work environment. Describes decision to enroll at University of San Diego’s Law School; long commute to Las Vegas to spend time with family; 1983 class was a third women; few minority students. Becomes pregnant. Works for Judge Mendoza for university credits………………5 – 7 Recalls discrimination in Texas; speaking Spanish and interracial dating was strongly discouraged; worker discrimination. Details family’s degrees and jobs. Details her numerous volunteer work; balancing work with children who became UNLV graduates. Mexican family Traditions. Casinos start to market on holidays…………........................................................9 –11 Reminisces on early days as a lawyer; one of few Spanish speaking attorneys; recounts time her roommate’s car broke down and how they got a refund, prompted Eva to represent car dealers. Tells about reconnecting with band teacher, Dr. Snavely, hires son, Luther Snavely; was partner for twenty-five years. Details beginning of Latin Bar Association; started with John Mendoza; meetings packed due to important community speakers. Mentions being on board of Boys & Girls Club. Tells anecdotes about women colleagues/contemporaries including Judge Kerry Earley and Valorie Vega; many Latina lawyers started at the court interpreter program......11 –15 Gives opinion on current immigration issues; e.g. president’s advisor, Stephen Miller. Names clientele Celine Dion, plus other celebrities. Recalls meaningful case against Nevada Test Site. Petitions to start American Immigration Lawyers Association, Nevada Chapter. Talks ICE raids in Clinton and Bush administration; talks effects of Trump’s presidency in states compared to Nevada. Issue of ‘faulty’ mid-wife certificates; discrimination against Latino/as in Brownsville, Texas; people born along border affected decades later........................................................16 –21 vii Talks about sexual harassment; settles case against Planet Hollywood; women in Stripping 101 class filmed exercising and changing without consent. Settles case at Mandalay Bay, filming cabaret dancers changing. Recounts when UNLV professor of linguistics retaliated against Eva for reporting his inappropriate behavior. States the Ford and Kavanagh case should be fully investigated; praises current generations for movements like #MeToo…………………….21 –23 Shares one last anecdote about her current office being haunted; moved into office in 1982; describes her office’s neighborhood as a convenient spot for many attorneys………….......24 –25 viii The date is September 25th. My name is Elsa Lopez. I'm here with Barbara Tabach. We are part of the Latinx Voices project of Southern Nevada, and we are interviewing Eva Garcia Mendoza. Can you please spell and pronounce your name. Eva Garcia Mendoza; E V A, G A R C I A, M E N D O Z A. For the record, it is 2018, is the year. Could you briefly tell us about your early childhood? Actually, if you could start with your parents, tell a little bit about your parents. Both of my parents were born in Mexico. My mother arrived in the U.S. when she was three years old from a town near Monterrey. Her parents were fleeing the Mexican Revolution. They had to cross the Rio Grande River and they had to go by ferry to get into Hidalgo, Texas and then McAllen where I was raised. McAllen is now very notorious because it was recently in the news as being the place that was housing all these undocumented children in cages who were separated from their parents. I am going to go to McAllen the first of November for my fiftieth high school reunion. I really didn't want to go because I don't have good memories of most of Texas with the exception of my memories of the band, which is the reason I think I have excelled because the band directors there believed in us and they didn't care about our last name or the color of our skin or what kind of education or jobs our parents had, which was very different from everybody else that was there. We were 80 percent of the population and we were the minority, and then it was not only an ethnic minority, we were an economic minority as well. My mother and dad, as well, always said the way to get out of the barrio is to get an education. All five of us kids got college degrees. Three of us got law degrees. The third one almost got to her Ph.D. and the oldest one has a bachelor's. Did your parents tell you in detail what it was like to cross over from Mexico? My mother was three years old, and so she doesn't remember the crossing except they crossed the river by ferry because there was no bridge then. My mother then finishes sixth grade in the United States, in McAllen, Texas, and her parents think that she needs to get a skill. She had some aunts and uncles in Monterrey, which is the second largest city in Mexico and does business very much like the United States does. It's very Americanized in that sense. There are more millionaires in this little suburb of Monterrey called Garza Garcia than anyplace else in Mexico. My mother's two oldest siblings and she were all born in Mexico and then she's got—I think there were eight or nine in the family—then all the others were born in McAllen. She gets sent to Mexico to secretarial school, and so she learns typing and shorthand and she learns it both in English and Spanish. She's living at an aunt and uncle's house. One evening she 2 goes to a dance and she meets this very handsome, tall, blond guy who has an eye for her. They start dancing and the rest is history because she brought him back to McAllen and introduced him to her folks and my grandmother immediately said, "You have to get married right away." They got married and they lived there. My father was also one of eight or nine siblings and he was the only one that ever immigrated to the U.S. None of his other siblings immigrated. That tells you why people immigrate. You immigrate for a better life, for economic reasons. They were able to establish themselves in Mexico in a good way economically and they didn't need to immigrate and never sought to immigrate. They never asked my father to petition to immigrate them and they remained there until their deaths. One time I remember we were down in a resort city in Mexico with some friends and an opportunity arose where we could buy a condo. I was seriously thinking of buying a condo. Dad was with us. This was after our mom died. I said, "Dad, if I bought this condo, would you like to live here?" He said, "No, my home is in the United States, not here." The greatest pleasure of my parents—I remember this—is when they became U.S. citizens. They were so proud of the certificate of citizenship that they got. Of course, in my practice that's part of what I do; I do a lot of litigation, but I also do citizenship and immigration. I know what it's like because I can feel the pleasure of my clients when they finally achieve that position as being a citizen that can vote. BARBARA: How old were you when they got their citizenship? I believe I was in junior high. Now, to tell you something more and the reason that I have such bad memories of South Texas is my father was blond and blue eyed and tall and thin and spoke with a terrible accent. But as long as he didn't open his mouth, everybody thought he was a gringo. And gringo is not used disparagingly. My mother had my skin color, which in Las Vegas they ask me, are you from Italy? Are you from Greece? Are you from the Middle East? But they don't automatically assume you're Mexican. But in Texas, Mexican is a bad word, or at least it was when I was growing up. My mother worked clerical her whole life. She worked for a law office. She worked for a doctor's office. Her last job, she worked at the bridge for immigration. She would hear some terrible stories from the immigration agents and then she would see the way they would mistreat the Mexicans trying to come across. It always offended her terribly. I remember as a kid sometimes crying myself to sleep, thinking, why wasn't I born to gringo parents? Because it was bad. But fortunately, as I say, you rise to the level of your teachers' expectations, and our band directors had very high expectations of us. My older sister Alma played in the band. Texas has like two hundred and sixty six high schools, and we competed for this thing called the All State 3 Band. You compete locally, regionally, and then statewide. She competed in 1963 and made first chair All State, so she beat out everybody else on the tenor sax and got first chair All State. I came over five years later and I compete. I compete in my junior year and I make second chair All State, also on tenor sax. Before my sister was her good friend Becky Snavely who also played tenor sax. Becky's parents lived in Retama Village, which was a bracero housing project, and she also made first chair All State. Becky, her last name was Rodriguez; she ends up marrying our band director. Now fast forward thirty years or something, my band director—I loved him to death and I'll speak more about him later—he goes by the initials L.M. Snavely, for Luther Snavely. Fast forward all these years, my first husband graduated from Notre Dame, my first partner graduated from Notre Dame, my second husband graduated from Notre Dame, and my second partner graduated from Notre Dame, and how that happened I'll never know because I never even knew Notre Dame existed until I met and started dating my first husband. But I always talked about Mr. Snavely. My late husband, who is my second husband, John Mendoza, was born and raised in Las Vegas, in 1928. He was twenty two years older than me. He was a district court judge, the first Latino ever elected to public office in the state of Nevada, and is very, very well respected and, in my opinion, a brilliant man. He was the captain of the football at Las Vegas High School1, right across the street from my office, that went undefeated, unscored upon, untied upon, and no one ever made a consecutive first down. At the end of the year their score was two hundred and twelve to nothing. Then they went and played the California state champs, which was San Bernardino at the time, and they beat them. This was during World War II. They had to travel by bus, and there was gasoline rationing at that time. A lot of the parents of the school donated all of their gas rations so that these kids could make it to San Bernardino to play in that game. I know a lot of stories about that class because I feel like I went to it because I was around them in all of my married life to my husband. It's incredible, incredible. My husband has a school named after him and several of his classmates have schools named after them. Then his coach and his coach's wife, who was also a teacher at Las Vegas High, also have a school named after them. It was a phenomenal class. Out of that class I think they ended up with five lawyers, a dentist, and several engineers. Coming from this little town of ten or fifteen thousand people at that time to have such a bright class come out of it is just unheard of. In fact, one of the coach's sons, who has since died—the coach died, but also the son—he actually wrote a book and wanted to turn it into a screenplay, a movie, about this team. As far as I know he hasn't gotten any takers yet. But I have that screenplay that he wrote. It's really interesting. I digressed. The band directors that we had really thought we could accomplish things, so they encouraged us to work hard. They encouraged us to practice our instrument hard. As a result of that I was able to get a scholarship to go to a university, a band scholarship. Then I was able to work for the band director at the university that I attended, which is now called Pan American 1 Las Vegas High School changed their name to Las Vegas Academy in 1993 4 University; at that time it was called Pan American College. It is just seven or eight miles away from McAllen, in Edinburg, Texas. I worked in the band department part time while I was going to school. I was hired by the high school that I had graduated from to come and tutor the saxophone students, and then I worked at this teenage nightclub called The Green Flame that was started by my first husband. I ended up marrying the person that started The Green Flame. Green was his last name. I was taking sixteen to eighteen credits every semester and working three jobs, and I didn't complain. But I didn't graduate from there because I got married to Jack Green and we moved out of South Texas. Six months later we end up in Las Vegas and I'm still here. ELSA: What brought you to Las Vegas? The reason we came to Las Vegas is because Jack had a real good friend who was an executive at the Sahara Hotel at that time. The Sahara Hotel was a big, big thing at that time. Now, it's called SLS or something. My first husband was from Wheeling, West Virginia. He said, "Come to Vegas. There are lots of jobs." That's what we did and it's true. Both of us got jobs right away. BARBARA: What was your first job here? My first job here was working for the City of Las Vegas. It was really funny. The Nevada Association of Latin Americans already existed. Somebody directed me to them. I go to them and they said, "Well, what are your skills?" I said, "Well, my mother insisted that we know typing and stenography." They said, "You need to take a test." I passed the test with flying—I could type a hundred and fifty words a minute or something and I knew shorthand as well. They were looking, I guess, to diversify their employment base, and so I got a job right away. Then I transferred from there to the Highway Department in the State of Nevada. I was doing this while I was waiting to gain my state residency so that I could enroll at UNLV without having to pay out of state tuition. You needed to live here for six months. Then I transferred over to the Highway Department, which is a state agency. When the six months were up and I had already been admitted into UNLV, the Department of Foreign Languages at UNLV was looking for an assistant to the department head, Dr. Lindberg, and so I get hired. I'm going to school full time and I'm working in the department where I majored in Spanish literature. So it ended up working real well. What year did you arrive here? Seventy one, in January of '71. Where did you live when you first moved here? 5 Oh my gosh, we lived between Paradise and Sixth Street, just north of Sahara in some little, eensy weensy apartments. It's a terrible neighborhood now. It probably was then, I don't know. I didn't know any better. ELSA: You said you were a Spanish literature major. What made you choose that field? Because I didn't know any better. I thought I wanted to be a physical therapist when I was at Pan American. I spent one semester, by the way, at Albuquerque, UNM, in between McAllen and Las Vegas because my husband and a friend had said, "Why don't you move to Albuquerque?" But I didn't feel like I belonged to New Mexico because those people trace their roots back to Spain five hundred years and I was not like that. I remember being at UNM I had a real good friend who was the...I don't know if she was a professor. She was an instructor or professor of Portuguese at UNM. She became a good friend. I remember being over at her house and it was two or three blocks from the university and there was this huge demonstration of Brown Berets or whatever they call them, and that was too aggressive, too violent for me. Texas was not that way at all at that time. BARBARA: Brown Berets, what— Brown is Chicano. So I remember that I couldn't even go home because there was this big demonstration and the streets were blocked and things. It was kind of interesting. So I come to Las Vegas. I graduate from UNLV in '73. I go work as a social worker because working for the government, they don't care what your degree is in, they just want a degree. Oh, but going back to your question about why I got the degree in Spanish literature, it is because when I was in UNM I look a lot of classes in Latin American history and that kind of stuff, and if I was going to use them I had to have some kind of major so I wouldn't lose. I was hungry; I needed to graduate because I needed to work, and so I didn't want to lose my credits. UNLV was willing to accept all of my credits that I transferred from Pan Am and from UNM. That's why I thought, well, I'll just do the easy thing and do Spanish literature. I became a social worker for Nevada State Welfare Department for two years. Then one day my husband is looking at the newspaper, and he says, "Oh, there's an ad here and they're looking for a court interpreter. You ought to apply." I go, "My Spanish isn't that good." And he goes, "Well, you ought to apply." I said, "Okay." I submit my application, and they said, "You have to take this written test." It's at the old convention center. You don't recognize it now, the way it was then, but it was in the same place on Paradise Road. There were like two hundred and fifty people that are there taking the test, and I'm totally intimidated. Somehow I get selected to do an oral interview, and the oral interview is at the chambers of Judge John Mendoza. He's there with Larry Luna, whom I had met through NALA, Nevada 6 Association of Latin Americans, and Dr. Meneses, whom I had met at UNLV because he was an instructor there. Dr. Meneses is a Cuban. Dr. Meneses was an attorney in Cuba, a friend of Fidel Castro before Fidel Castro became radicalized. They had both gone to law school together. Dr. Meneses fled and ends up in Las Vegas, as a lot of Cubans did. He was then teaching as an instructor in the Department of Foreign Languages. I saw two familiar faces; I knew Larry and I knew Dr. Meneses. I didn't know Mendoza. Then they gave me an oral test and I answered it. What they explained to me was that they were looking for fifteen people to teach legal words, and from those fifteen people they were going to select one. I get selected among the fifteen people, Dr. Menezes and Larry. Luna had done coursework for us for our class and taught it. We went to UNLV for I don't know for how many weeks, maybe three or four months. Then there was another interview, and there were two finalists, me and this man who had recently retired from the military and he was a high rank. Mendoza was leaning toward him, not toward me. But Meneses and Larry Luna convinced him to hire me, and I became the first official court interpreter for the state of Nevada. When I first started—that was in 1975—I had to keep statistics because the way Judge Mendoza got this program started is by writing a grant to the Law Enforcement Agency Administration. It was called LEAA at that time. He got a three year grant then he was able to convince the Board of Commissioners of Clark County, if they could fund part of it. They didn't fund my salary, but I guess they funded maybe my office, which was at the courthouse. I had to keep statistics and send reports to my boss, Judge Mendoza, all the time and say how many times I got called and other languages that got called and things like that. I was getting called thirty to thirty five times a month. Now they're getting called like seven hundred times a week. Because at that time the Latinos were five to six percent of the population of the state of Nevada, and now they're in excess of twenty five percent. I don't know what the exact number is, but it's far higher. I got to meet a lot of the young attorneys, both the ones that were working and the ones that were working as law clerks and I would socialize with them. I said to myself, "I always thought you had to be real smart to be a lawyer, but these guys aren't any smarter than me." I was talking to one of the attorneys who was in the District Attorney's Office at the time, and he said, "You know, Eva, if you're interested—" Oh, because I said, "I can only go to two places. I'm married. I have two kids." I said, "I have a sister in law that lives in San Diego with her family, so I'd like to go to school in San Diego." And he said, "Well, I've got a very good friend who is a professor at University of San Diego School of Law and he's on the admission's committee. Let me give him a call." He said, "Get your application in." I get my application in. Not only do I get admitted, but I get a full ride including books, so that was great. It certainly helped out a lot. But it was tough because my husband and kids stayed 7 here and I would commute every two weeks. I would try to leave on a Thursday night and drive home and then drive back on Sunday. And that was rough, leaving the kids. We had a nanny at the time. My husband wasn't making a lot of money. I remember when my car got repossessed during the one of the times that I came to visit. I said, "Jack, you didn't pay it." He said, "I didn't have any money." I said, "Darn it." BARBARA: How many women were in your class at law school? There were quite a few. I would say about a third at that time. I graduated in 1981. It was on the uptick as far as women's admissions. Yes. But there were not a lot of minorities. I think there were maybe four or five Latinos in my class. Of both genders? Yes. At USD, the law school had set aside this room down in the basement next to the student union. They called us diversity students; they used that term then. This was right after Bakke got decided, B A K K E, by the Supreme Court. You would have the white minorities because they were economically depressed, and then the Asians, the American Indians that are indigenous, Latinos, and the blacks. We would meet there. It was a good thing because we had a lot of things in common as minority kids. Then my last year I get pregnant. I thought I had had a bad ham dinner for Easter. I go back to school and I'm thinking, God, I'm still sick. That's horrible. I kept asking all my sisters and brothers, "Did you guys get sick?" No, no. I was pregnant. Actually that was my second year because Aaron was born my third year. In law school they have a saying: The first year they scare you to death because the first week of class they'll tell you, look to your right and look to your left, and by the time you graduate there will only be one of you of the three. They scare you and want to make sure that if you want to be a lawyer, you're going to stick it out; if you don't want to be a lawyer, don't waste your time. The second year they work you to death, and the third year they bore you to death. In my second year I had a roommate who was a gal from Honolulu, Hawaii. She was Asian. She and I roomed together in graduate student housing. We found out that you could do what's called an externship; you could get a job in the legal field and get credits for it without actually physically being on campus. I came back to Judge Mendoza and I proposed this to him and I said, "Would you hire me as a law clerk? You don't have to pay me. You just have to sign off on this at the end and I'll get thirteen credits." And he said, "Sure." That's what happened. 8 I was working for him. He was a juvenile judge at the time. Now it's a huge building off of Bonanza and Pecos. It wasn't big then. I was very pregnant. I go to work on Friday, on Saturday I give birth to Aaron, and I'm back at work on Monday. I didn't like staying home. ELSA: Between Texas, San Diego and Las Vegas, what would you say were some of the major differences in terms of you being a woman of color, growing up, being educated? As I say, I have a tremendous dislike of Texas because in Texas even today there is still an economic discrimination so that the rich Mexicans discriminate against the poor Mexicans. My sister tells a story that she did her student teaching in a school that was predominately Anglo down in McAllen, and she got the best grade of any student teacher in her class. When she went to the principal and said, "I'd like you to hire me," he said, "I can't hire you because the parents would never hear of it. You've got to look on the other side of the tracks." So she got hired at a school that's predominately Mexican American kids. When I was in high school, we did not cross date. It just couldn't happen. When I went to Pan Am, I did start dating a little bit—some of the Anglo kids, I think maybe two. But every time I go back, I just hate it. Now I'm taking my grandchildren who have never been there and my two oldest daughters. The oldest one has been there, the second one has not. I'm going to show them where I grew up, which was on the wrong side of the tracks. We lived in a barrio, but we thought we were well off because everybody else was worse off than us, which is funny to say that. Everybody thought we were rich because they were poorer than us. Also, going to school, we were not allowed to speak Spanish. We would get sent to the principal's office and get spanked because it was considered...I guess if you look at it from their perspective, they say, "You're here to learn English, so we don't want you to speak in Spanish." But, at the same time, it made us feel inferior that we speak Spanish; it's a negative connotation to speak Spanish. They put all these things on you, on how you feel about yourself. I remember when I got the job at Nevada State Welfare and I had a real good friend. I was always just looking at how people are going to receive me because I thought, well, my last name was Garcia and here I am brown skinned. One day this friend Heather Higgins—I'll never forget her—another social worker, she said, "Get that chip off your shoulder. It isn't that way here." Las Vegas is not that way. I think it's the best place to live because I have never found that and seen that discrimination here in the forty some odd years, forty seven years I've lived here. In what way did your family support you in your education towards becoming a lawyer? Well, they didn't. It was because Mendoza gave me the job to be a court interpreter. Then I met all these lawyers and law clerks, and that gave me the desire to advance my career and to do something other than being a social worker. Then my two younger siblings went to law school. 9 My younger sister, who was also an educator, she didn't get a full ride. By that time they weren't doing full rides so much anymore. She