Meet Staff Member Francisco Rosas
Meet Francisco Rosas, Admissions Counselor for San Joaquin College of Law (SJCL). As a first-generation college student, he struggled to navigate the college system and soon realized he wanted to help others who dealt with the same issues.
Tell me about your role at SJCL and the road that led to the school.
I’m the Admissions Counselor and Veterans Resource for SJCL. I help advise student veterans on the educational benefits they might qualify for, and I also counsel all students on the admissions process. My journey to SJCL started with me wanting to be a history teacher. I went to Fresno City and since I was a first-generation college student, I found it difficult to navigate the system. What began as a journey to become a high school teacher transitioned into a desire to help other student veterans in navigating the higher education system. I’m currently working on my Masters in Education with an option in higher education at Fresno State. Originally, I didn’t know what the program was about. I knew it had to do with student affairs, but I didn’t know what that meant. As the first semester went on, I realized that student affairs encompassed everything within administration. It’s the co-curriculum, I learned, that helps academic affairs. We help students succeed outside of the classroom setting, and that’s how I discovered what I wanted to do. I was working at the Fresno State Veterans Services Office doing admissions and a colleague, told me about an opening at San Joaquin College of Law. I saw it as an opportunity to branch out and start helping other students, so I applied and got the job. I began by trying to empower my community, and now I’m helping my community navigate through the higher education system.
What does a typical day look like for you?
It depends, but I’m usually following up with phone calls from potential students that have gone through one of our informational law forums or attended one of our career panels. I inform them about our institution and help them with the process of applying to law school. I start by explaining the cost because that’s one of the first things people want to know. Then we’ll talk about the admissions process and I’ll tell them about the LSAT, registering with LSAC and how to register. I also meet with students that walk into our office wanting more information about law school. I’m usually on the phone talking to students, offering my assistance and letting them know I’m here to answer any questions they might have or provide any help they may need. I also invite them to our informational law forums where we explain the admissions process in detail. Once a week you will find me out on the Fresno State campus in the Free Speech area talking with students about SJCL.
What’s been your favorite part of the job so far?
Interacting with students for sure. I like that feeling of being able to explain that they can go to law school and be successful here because I see it every day. I hear the stories of current students and alumni and they’re very similar to the stories of perspective students. Being able to convey the message to them that they can do it is very rewarding. I love seeing them go through the process and get admitted. That’s the best part of my job.
What’s the most rewarding part of your job?
I feel like I can empower students. To see a student when they first come to a law forum or another event and hear them doubt themselves. After they start hearing the information, they realize how much potential they have. Hopefully they then are empowered enough to take the next step and attend law school.
What’s one random fact about yourself that you want people to know?
I’m approachable. I’ve been told I look mean in pictures and maybe that’s from my military background, but that’s not me at all. I’ll talk to everybody!
What advice do you have for other first-generation students?
Anyone can succeed in higher education and law school. Being a first-generation student does pose challenges because we don’t know the system, or even simple things like how to apply for financial aid. Yet, those challenges can be overcome. Not only did I go through those same issues, I am also a combat veteran. I was able to overcome those barriers. I know for a fact that it’s challenging, but through perseverance and hard work, anyone can overcome challenges and succeed in higher education, including law school.
How did your military background prepare you for the role you play now?
The one thing that has transferred over for me from the military is my ability to organize and manage my time. That’s something I don’t think I had prior to the military. It was very good for me to learn how to manage my time and be organized. My office is always neat now and I can’t leave without it being clean, but that helps me because when I go in the next day, I’m ready to go to work. That organization has been very helpful for me. As a combat veteran I experienced some hardships while I was in Iraq, and although working in higher education is mentally challenging and sometimes physically draining, it doesn’t compare to a day in Iraq. Therefore, every time I feel down, I just think back to my experience as an infantryman in the Army. It feels like a day in the park being here after that.
What advice would you give to someone who wants to go to law school, but isn’t sure where to begin.
The best thing is to do your research, that’s you first step. Just about everyone who comes to our law forums finds us on social media or they find us on Google. Ask alumni what their experience was with the law school. Make sure that alumni are giving good reviews about the institution. Second, consider the career outlook, in the area of law you are interested in pursuing. Third, look at the cost of living for the area. Finally, contact me or a law school admissions counselor and have all your questions ready for them.
What is something that’s unique about SJCL or makes it stand out from other law schools.
When I first got to SJCL, the most unique thing I recognized was that it’s the only law school in the Central Valley and it’s the only one within 120-mile radius. SJCL is also one of the most affordable law schools in California. In addition, I came from a large institution with large classes. The professor to student ratio is high at larger schools with less interaction with professors. SJCL is unique. I’ve sat in on some classes here and the students can interact with their professors and other students. Moreover, students form their own study groups and aren’t trying to compete against each other or bring each other down. Instead, they’re trying to help each other because SJCL does not grade on a curve. This creates a great learning environment for all students.