Staff Profile: Edison Lopez
Edison Lopez joined PBRC in 2020 and serves as the Project Paralegal for the Maryland Immigrant Legal Assistance Project. As the primary point of contact for immigrants seeking legal services in Maryland, he coordinates the volunteer interpreters for MILAP’s legal clinics and provides support to the MILAP Director. Edison is a native Baltimorean and has hobbies ranging from art, to film and TV, to even roller skating.
Where did you grow up?
I am a native ‘Baltimorean’, hon. I was born in Highlandtown and spent a few of my early years in East Baltimore. Around the time I turned 5 years old, my family moved us down Eastern Ave and settled into the small community of Essex in southeast Baltimore County. I spent the remainder of my childhood and adolescence in Baltimore County until I moved back into the city once I turned 18.
Where did you go to school and what was your major/focus?
I started at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County in 2017 but I currently attend the Community College of Baltimore County where I am completing my remaining general education courses and obtaining a Legal Studies degree. I do plan on returning to UMBC and completing my degree in Social Work and Political Science. During high school though, I was enrolled in an art magnet program and there were a few moments early on when I thought I would go to art school.
What are your interests/hobbies?
I am a huge TV and film buff! I would consider myself a “horror film aficionado” but love all sorts of genres- particularly films and tv shows from the 1970’s. However, my absolute favorite hobby is roller skating! I started roller skating this past March after being off of them for almost 10 years and have loved every second of it. My goal is to perfect my skating to the point where I feel comfortable enough to tryout for a roller derby league. Even if my dreams of becoming a roller derby boy never come to fruition, I will still continue to skate because it is LOTS of fun and recommend everyone to try it!
How did you connect with PBRC?
I actually found out about PBRC through Indeed. I had been laid off from my previous employer due to COVID-19 and began applying for legal support jobs throughout the state. I found the PBRC posting to be very interesting and decided to apply- and I am so glad that I did!
What were you doing prior to working here?
I worked in local Baltimore museums for the last three years. I worked as a Guest Services Supervisor at Port Discovery Children’s Museum. My most recent position was at the Baltimore Museum of Industry as a Museum Educator. Along with my museum work, I use to bartend on the weekends at a local magic bar/theatre called Illusions.
What do you do at PBRC?
I am the Project Paralegal for the Maryland Immigrant Legal Assistance Project. I serve as the primary point of contact for immigrants seeking legal services in Maryland, coordinate the volunteer interpreters for our legal clinics, and provide support to the MILAP Director.
What is your proudest accomplishment? [Professional? Non-professional?]
My proudest professional accomplishment thus far was being able to help the Baltimore Museum of Industry become more accessible to native Spanish speakers in Maryland. Baltimore City and other parts of Maryland have large populations of Latinos who come to the museum as regular visitors, chaperones, and primarily as children who are on a school field trip. I noticed that many of these students were not obtaining the same experiences as their classmates because of the language barrier. Some of these children were fluent in English and Spanish while others only spoke Spanish. I would be giving a tour and could tell that the stories I was sharing were not being understood. As the son of immigrants, I wanted these children who reminded me so much of myself to hear the stories of the immigrants that built the Port of Baltimore. In order to do this, I began translating museum literature and educational program components from English into Spanish. I feel a great sense of pride knowing that moving forward, Latino children from across Maryland who visit the museum will be able to have a fulfilling and exciting time regardless of what language they speak.
What motivates you, OR who is a hero, OR what is a quote that inspires you to do the work you do?
I would say Sonia Sotomayor is a personal hero of mine. In her book, she goes into great detail about her difficult upbringing. She lost her father at a young age to alcoholism, she was to diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes at the age of 8, and had to essentially raise her younger brother since her mother had to work to support them. Through all of these challenges, she ascended to one the highest positions in our country’s judiciary. Her story, along with the quote from her college yearbook is what fuels me to do the work I do: “I am not the champion of lost causes, but the champion of causes not yet won”.
What has been your most meaningful experience with PBRC?
Although I am still in my first month with PBRC, my most meaningful experience has been working directly with clients. In one particular instance, I spoke with a client on the phone who needed help obtaining legal resources. After talking for a bit on the phone, she began telling me her story. Where she comes from, what brought her to the US, and what motivates her to keep going. I gave her the space to tell me her story. I could tell based on our conversation that she had been struggling to find someone who was willing to listen. Thankfully, I was able to offer a resource to help with her. She thanked me repeatedly for taking the time to help her and for giving her the opportunity to share her story when no one else would. This was an incredibly fulfilling moment for me with the project.
What sets PBRC apart in your mind, OR what do you appreciate about the mission?
I appreciate being afforded the ability to serve the community. Every staff member and volunteer I’ve interacted with at PBRC cares greatly about the clients we serve, shares the same passion for advocacy that I do, and believes in PBRC’s mission.
Tell us something random about yourself…
While I was at Port Discovery, I was given mini circus lessons from a former circus clown. One of the things he showed me was how to juggle! I consider it to be my secret talent.