Student Spotlight: 1L Jesus Salazar hopes to be a voice for the voiceless

Mar 09, 2022 | Belonging & Access

Jesus Salazar was casually considering law school as an option — but when his family and friends faced incidents of discrimination based on their race, it solidified his decision.

“At first it made me really angry,” Salazar said. “But as time went on, that anger turned into a desire to protect and help people who didn’t have the resources to protect themselves.”

Those incidents are what pushed Salazar to apply to the University of Utah S.J. Quinney College of Law.

Salazar is currently thriving in his first year as a law student. With an undergraduate degree in applied mathematics and a minor in physics, his background might seem a little unusual for a future lawyer, but Salazar believes his degrees and work background have been a huge benefit.

“In math and physics, you’re purely problem solving,” he said. “And honestly, a lot of law school is problem solving, like being able to spot issues and find a solution to those issues. I think that my STEM background gave me a different way of thinking and finding creative solutions.”

Salazar also worked in real estate before coming to law school.

“I learned a lot about creating client relationships and how to take care of people during an emotional time,” he said. “Which is a great skill for lawyers to have.”

Salazar is a recipient of an Arc Fellowship through the S.J. Quinney College of Law’s new Arc to Justice program. This program is supported by six local law firms and is designed to increase diversity in the legal field by supporting individuals who’ve had to overcome challenges to come to law school.

The Arc to Justice program is sponsored by Kirton McConkie, Dentons Durham Jones Pinegar, Greenberg Traurig, Parsons Behle & Latimer, Snell & Wilmer, and Strong & Hanni.

“It’s a great way of attracting good students with different backgrounds and perspectives to the school,” he said. “Meeting people of different backgrounds has personally helped me broaden my view of the world. I think the Arc Fellowship is a great way to promote diversity and bolster the community.”

Two exceptional incoming students are selected to receive an Arc Fellowship each year.

“I was ecstatic about the Arc Fellowship, but I think my family was even more excited than I was,” Salazar said. “My abuelita (grandmother), who came from Mexico to the United States in her thirties, missed out on many important family events to make a better life for our family. When I got into law school and received this fellowship, she said all of the sacrifices she went through were worth it.”

Salazar is interested in litigation, civil rights work, and real estate law. His biggest goal is to utilize his legal career to help be a voice for the voiceless. He is looking forward to exploring options during his time in law school.