Javier Becerra '17

A would-be physician makes a career change

At Georgia College, Becerra excelled. Feeling the need to prove himself, to validate the belief Javier Francisco had displayed in him—to succeed at a higher level—Becerra earned a 4.0 GPA.That performance gave his confidence a much-needed boost. He felt like he belonged. He became involved in nearly everything he could find. And when something was missing? He’d found a new student organization to fill the void. Part of it was proving his doubters, including himself at times, wrong. As he did, he realized he could be more than just another student.

“I was heavily involved,” Becerra said. “That started trickling down through my undergraduate experience. I started developing leadership traits and got really involved in anything that interested me.” As Becerra moved up the ranks, he began mentoring freshmen and sophomores. “People helped me, believed in me,” he said. “I wanted to pay it back.”

All throughout his undergraduate experience, Becerra was convinced he wanted to become a physician. He applied for, and was accepted into, the prestigious Summer Medical and Dental Education Program for first- and second-year college students considering a career in medicine or dentistry. For six weeks he was at Yale University, shadowing emergency doctors in the ER at a local hospital. The experience taught him quickly that medicine was not the path for him. But with a degree in biology, where else could he turn?

Becerra had become a licensed private investigator back in high school, thanks to a family friend who ran her own PI firm. After opting to not pursue medical school, Becerra didn't know where to turn. So he returned to the world of private investigations, where he began interacting with people he’d never known before—attorneys. That sparked an interest in becoming a lawyer.

“I wanted to make my parents proud, so I said ‘Let’s go to law school,’” he said. “I had no idea what to expect as an immigrant here in this country. I’d become the first attorney in my family, the first individual to earn both undergraduate and graduate degrees here in the United States.”

Becerra studied hard for the LSAT, but didn’t do as well as he’d expected. Still, his name ended up in the big database of all LSAT takers, which put him on the radar of the Maurer School of Law.

“I got an email from the president of the Latinx Law Student Association (LLSA) saying ‘We saw your profile and think you should consider us,’” he said. Frank Motley, assistant dean of admissions at the time, encouraged Becerra to come visit. “I’d never been to Indiana, but I knew as soon as I stepped on campus and started meeting the law students there that it was where I was meant to be.”

Becerra credits Motley with opening the door for him.

"He saw me as a whole person and gave me the opportunity to come here," Becerra said. "I wasn’t going to waste it.”

I'd never been to Indiana, but I knew as soon as I stepped on campus and started meeting the law students there that it was where I was meant to be.