Faculty share immigration stories, experiences

Published: March 11th, 2013

Category: News


UF Law Professors Wentong Zheng, standing, Tom Lin and Berta Esperanza Hernández-Truyol speak Feb. 26. about “Immigrants and the American Experience” during a lunch presentation at UF Law. (Photo by Maggie Powers)

By Jenna Box
Student writer

“The American story is an immigrant story,” Professor Tom C. W. Lin said as he opened “Immigrants and the American Experience” a panel held at UF Law on Feb 26. Together, three distinguished UF Law professors of immigrant background offered their views on immigration to inspire students to unify and press onward toward their goals in the midst of obstacles.

Professor Berta Esperanza Hernández-Truyol’s experiences as an outsider during her years as a young professional and other anecdotes offered an empathetic voice to the many students who feel like outcasts in an environment that seems to cater to native-born Americans.

“I can’t remember how many law students who are immigrants come up to me and say, ‘Do you really believe that I can do litigation? Do you really believe that I can argue in the courtroom? How can I compete with American students?’” said Professor Wentong Zheng, who came to America as a student at 24 years old. “There might be limitations on an immigrant, but I think the biggest limitations are those you impose yourself.”

Hernández-Truyol echoed his sentiments, relating how she worked hard to become one of two Latina law teachers in the nation at the time she was hired. Now in her 30th year in the field, she said education is the key to a better community and a better understanding of “who we are.”

Lin added that progress toward a more perfect union will take the hard work of everyone in America.

Lin is an assistant professor of law and assistant director of the Criminal Justice Center and has teaching and scholarship interests in business associations, corporations, contracts, securities regulation, behavioral law and economics, privacy law and white collar crime.

Hernández-Truyol is a Levin Mabie & Levin Professor of Law and has teaching and scholarship interests in international law, international human rights, gender/race issues and Latina/Latino issues in the law and employment discrimination.

Zheng is assistant professor of law and has teaching and scholarship interests in international trade, international business transactions, antitrust and competition policy, Chinese law, commercial law and economics.

The panel was hosted by the Asian Pacific American Law Students Association, Center for the Study of Race & Race Relations, Immigration Law Association and Latino Law Student Association.