Anna-Cajsa Gipson was a stay-at-home mom for nearly 23 years before reentering the workforce and pursuing an advanced degree through the Master of Legal Studies program. She earned an undergraduate degree in English and says education has always been central to her identity, taught to her by her Latina mothers.
“My great-grandmother, a new widow with several young children, immigrated to the United States from Mexico City and earned a college degree. She taught high school Spanish in Texas for the rest of her life,” Gipson recalls. “My grandmother first worked her sister through college and then herself. She taught high school ESL in California and mentored other immigrants in how to maneuver life in the United States. I remember sitting in her classes as a young girl and watching her serve not only her Hispanic community but all immigrants. She had a master’s, and I am proud to follow in her footsteps.”
Before Gipson was born, her mother earned her degree and worked as a substitute teacher in Minnesota.
“My Latina mothers taught me that education was the way to lift not only yourself but others as well. I am the fourth-generation Latina in my family to have a university degree. My oldest daughter became the fifth generation last year, making it nearly 100 years of University Latinas,” Gipson says. “I am pursuing a Master’s in Legal Studies in order to help others maneuver through the legal issues that they may encounter and to honor the tradition of education my family has valued.”
Now that her three children are all enrolled in universities, Gipson says her time for further education has come.
“It’s my turn to pursue what I wanted to do when I grew up! I was really nervous about going back to school after having taken such a long break, especially as I’m working full time,” Gipson says. “Getting used to the workload has been a challenge but one that I’ve been ready to meet. I love that I’m able to gain the confidence to know that yes, I can do this!”
She is also excited that she has a lot of career options once she earns her MLS next year.
“There are so many opportunities available through the MLS program, like becoming an LPP (licensed paralegal practitioner) or a mediator. You don’t have to be a lawyer to support people in their legal journeys,” Gipson says. “There are so very many that it’s been hard to narrow down what I’d like to do with it. I would like to help others to be the best that they can be, especially through education. Whether that is immigration law, Title IX, or other educational advocacy, I don’t know yet, but I’m excited to find out.”
As Hispanic Heritage Month, celebrated Sept. 15 – Oct. 15 each year, draws to a close, Gipson says she would love to see more highlights of Latinx legal professionals throughout the month who could be an example to others of Latinx heritage.
“I wish people understood the variety of Latinx perspectives. It wasn’t until someone introduced me as Mexicana that I truly appreciated the breadth of culture that the United States just lumps into ‘Latinx,'” Gipson recalls. “I wish people could understand that it spans not just cultural diversity but socioeconomic diversity as well. I appreciate the ability to focus on my Hispanic heritage, to remember the sacrifices that my mothers made in not just getting an education, but also in their cultural identity as they assimilated into American life.”
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