There are few things more exciting than Latinas getting their place at the table in higher academia. Especially at Ivy League schools like Harvard University where the system continues to favor white students from upper-class backgrounds. Despite these barriers, Mexican-American law student Priscila Coronado, 24, just became the first Latina president of The Harvard Law Review. Born to Mexican immigrant parents, Coronado was raised in Downey, California. She became the first person in her family to attend college, graduating with a BA from UCLA. She was then accepted into Harvard Law School where she currently studies education law and disability rights.
She wants to “work hard to show how being a Latina is an important part of who I am,” she told Reuters. Her new role as the head of the journal is a huge accomplishment for her and for the wider Latinx community. One of the most prestigious law journals in the United States, The Harvard Law Review has been running at Harvard for 135 years. Only the top law students are considered for staff positions for law review journals, who often became respected luminaries in their fields. Within The Harvard Law Review, three current members of the Supreme Court once served as editors. And in 1990, its first Black president was Barack Obama so to now see her make history as the first Latina to hold this position is a sign of barriers being broken.
Susan Estrich was the review’s first female president elected in 1977, in 2011 they elected its first openly gay president, and their first Black woman was elected in 2017. And Coronado isn’t the only one who’s making history at Harvard. Just last year, Stephany Gutíerrez, the daughter of undocumented parents, was accepted into four prestigious universities including Harvard and Columbia. Elizabeth Estaban, an Indigenous Mexican student, received a full-ride scholarship to attend the university despite her culture’s traditional expectations of women.
Most recently, Raquel Coronell Uribe became the first Latina president of The Harvard Crimson, the university’s student newspaper. With its 148-year history, it’s one of the oldest of its kind in the country. The daughter of Colombian immigrants, she remains an impressive role model for other Latinas hoping to become journalists.
“I’m hoping that opening that door will allow it to stay open,” Coronell Uribe previously told NPR. “That’s what makes me the most excited.”
Following this academic year, Coronado will take on a summer associate position at Munger, Tolles & Olson, a law firm headquartered in Los Angeles.