The Legal Field Needs More People Like Us

Maggie Garza (J.D. Candidate 2024) shares what inspired her to become a lawyer.

Although Magdalena “Maggie” Garza is an impressive law student at the University of Houston Law Center with a full ride scholarship and a promising career ahead of her, she always thought that her true calling is that of a "The Price is Right" contestant.

I’ve always joked that I would be a great contestant for 'The Price is Right' because I always had to worry about the price of milk and eggs,” Garza explains.

She grew up in a South Texas border town in the Rio Grande Valley with a single mother who worked two to three jobs at a time. Garza remembers, “I always joked that she has so many heaven points.”

She credits her mother with the determination and positive attitude that allowed her to overcome any obstacles to excel academically.

“My mom would always say ‘If great things were easy, then everybody would do it.’ That’s my reminder of having to put in the effort to get to wherever I wanted to go.”

Maggie Garza with her mother

Maggie Garza with her mother

Garza followed her mother’s advice. She worked hard in school and earned the Gates Millenium Scholarship for her undergraduate education at The University of Texas at Austin. She studied international relations and government. She joined pre-law organizations and became the vice president of Minority Women Pursuing Law.

After graduation, she served as the only legal assistant at a criminal defense law firm. She delayed applying to law school for an extra year because of the COVID pandemic. The decision proved enlightening as she witnessed court proceedings transition to Zoom judicial proceedings.

When applying to law schools, she visited many schools but knew University of Houston was the right choice for her.

“I remember saying to Dean Monica Mensah and another administrative representative that I would love to hear more about their first-generation organization, and she wrote it down and put me in contact with someone that was part of that organization. I have found that no other law school made that kind of effort,” she recalls.

Once she started classes, Garza learned she had been awarded the Mo Aziz Scholarship, a scholarship that covered tuition and gave her a stipend.

“I called my mom crying while she was at work, and I told her about the scholarship.” She describes the scholarship as life changing. “Aside from alleviating the stress of being able to focus on class and help my mom financially, I was also able to afford tools to succeed in class like a desk, monitor, books and supplemental materials. Even during my 1L year, when my mom was hospitalized with Covid for 18 days, I was still able to pull through and have the opportunity to work at a big law firm downtown.”

Garza sees the support at UH as extending beyond the scholarship she received.

“Now being here, I see that the school practices what they preach of caring about their students and caring about diversity.”

She references the Hispanic Heritage Wall in the John M. O’Quinn Law Building. “It’s empowering to see the wall with successful attorneys who look like me. I can't wait for that wall to get bigger. I can't wait to see myself on that wall.”

She is quick to express her gratitude for Mo Aziz and his thoughtfulness. “Mo Aziz didn't have to do this. He could have gone on with his life since he had an amazing career and legacy already. Being one of the top litigators in all of the state of Texas, he didn't have to donate. I truly attribute being able to even interview at big law firms to Mo Aziz.”

She is inspired by his choice and hopes to pay it forward. “By the grace of God, I will have a job secured after graduation. I can't wait to give back. I can't wait to meet the future Maggies and law students and help them by giving back to the University or by creating a scholarship.”

For those considering donating, she has inspiring words, encouraging them to think about the impact they will have on the legal field. “It's easy to just concentrate on your career and establish your family, but you will truly change someone else's life. You're creating space for people who look like me and who come from similar situations. The legal field needs to grow, and it needs more people like us.”