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Monday, May 22, 2017 - 12:00pm

Life Lessons in the Halls of Justice

Before she came to Mercy College, Karlin Tapia '17, was content with an associate’s degree. But at Mercy, “I started dreaming bigger,” she said. “My professors inspired me to become someone influential, not just another person on the block.”

Last spring Tapia demonstrated her commitment to that goal by completing an internship with the New York State Senate, an opportunity that is offered annually to only 30 undergraduates across the state. Guided and supported by two Mercy professors, the 20-year-old Tapia applied for and won a spot in the Senate Undergraduate Session Assistants Program, and began learning first-hand about state government and the legislative process.

As Session Assistant to Senator David Carlucci (D-Rockland/Westchester), Tapia conducted research and briefings to prepare the Senator for press events, meetings, hearings, and chamber sessions. “I learned that no matter how hard you try or how much you care, you can’t make everyone happy,” she said, adding, “Although we continue to try our very best to draft legislation that will address the constituency’s most pressing issues.”

With plans to go to law school, the political science major is already studying for the LSAT exam. Her stint in the Senate fanned her desire to give a voice to people whose own voices often go unheard—especially immigrants like her own Ecuadorean parents. “I have a passion to help people overcome obstacles,” Tapia said.

The oldest of four siblings, she lived with her grandmother until age 7 so that her mother, who was just 16 when Tapia was born, could finish school. When her parents divorced, a wise family court judge inspired her to seek a life of public service. “The judge listened to everyone’s side before making her decision, which turned out to be the best thing for all of us,” Tapia said. “I want to be someone who can influence people to do right by each other.”

That fits well with Tapia’s deep religious convictions, and her wish to be a positive role model for her siblings. “I want to glorify God with my life testimony as a person who impacts people for the better. And I want to make my family proud,” she said.