Incoming Aggie Law Student Wins BARBRI Scholarship

July 10, 2017

Amanda SarmientoIncoming Aggie Law 1L Amanda Sarmiento, winner of the 2017 BARBRI One Lawyer Can Change the World Scholarship

When other daughters were dancing on their daddy’s feet, Amanda Sarmiento was brushing up on History Channel documentaries with her own father, a tradition that sparked her interest not only in history, but also political science.

Growing up in Laredo, Texas, Sarmiento lived in a household that highly prioritizes education. The granddaughter of immigrants forced to quit school early and work in the fields, Sarmiento’s own mother and father went all the way in the school, and never missed an opportunity to instill that value in their own children.

“I always knew I would go to college, and put in the work required to make that happen,” Sarmiento said. “Because of finances, I attended school locally, and double majored in political science and history. That childhood dream of becoming a lawyer was never far from my mind, though.”

When she learned Texas A&M had opened a law school, Sarmiento said she knew this was her chance.

Sarmiento began her pursuit of a legal education while still an undergrad. In her senior year at Texas A&M International University (TAMIU), Sarmiento participated in the inaugural joint TAMIU-Texas A&M Law School "Borderlands Law" course (officially “Special Topics in International Law: Borderlands Law - Contemporary Legal Issues Relating to the U.S.-Mexico Border”). The class is limited to 12 students, half ​from Texas A&M School of Law and half ​from TAMIU (both undergraduate and graduate students). Aggie Law faculty members teach the class on the TAMIU campus in Laredo each May.

Sarmiento said she knew ​Aggie Law would be a good fit.

“I respect the values they promote within the student body, and also the student camaraderie that is so evident,” she said. “There’s also this certain prestige that comes with saying ‘I’m an Aggie,’ and it really excites me to be able to say that.”

For Sarmiento, joining the Aggie Law family this fall is all the sweeter for the One Lawyer Can Change the World $10,000 BARBRI scholarship she recently won.

“I first learned about it on the law school website,” Sarmiento said. “The BARBRI Scholarship caught my attention because it was the biggest one.”

For her essay, Sarmiento wrote about immigration law as she experienced it, growing up and living in a border town like Laredo.

“I want to be an immigration attorney, but beyond that, I want to be someone who can influence and change the law,” she said. “I want to do whatever I can so it’s not so difficult for people to become U.S. citizens. Working for an organization that defends oppressed people in society or whatever form that takes on, I want to do it.”

Amongst stiff competition, Sarmiento’s essay quickly rose to the top, and she was named the 2017 Winner of BARBRI’s One Lawyer Can Change the World Scholarship.

“That news could not have come at a better time,” Sarmiento said. “My grandfather had just passed away the day before. When I found out I won, it felt like a blessing that our family’s pursuit of education has come full circle. I won’t be letting him down.”

Post law school, Sarmiento said she plans to return to Laredo and build her practice there.

2019 Update:
As an Aggie law student, Sarmiento is putting the essay topic of "how one lawyer can change the world" into action, starting with Laredo.

  • At the end of her first year at Texas A&M School of Law, Sarmiento served a summer externship in Laredo with the Federal Public Defender's Office as part of the "Borderlands Law Program."
  • Sarmiento secured a placement in an internship at the U.S. Attorney's Office, Southern District of Texas, in Laredo in her second year.