Joann F. Horta-Baez
Class of 2019
Year Graduated: 2019
Hometown: Sabana Grande, Puerto Rico
Undergraduate: California State University, Los Angeles
Major: B.A, History and M.A, Political Science; Global Politics
Joann Horta-Baez was born and raised in Sabana Grande, Puerto Rico. When she was 17 years old, she moved from Puerto Rico to Los Angeles by herself. For Joaan it was a surreal and exciting time. She recalls, "I cried all the time that first year...wanting to go home. But at the same time, I just couldn't do it. I had to prove to myself that I was capable of succeeding on my own and outside of the bubble I had lived in my whole life." Being alone through this journey gave her an opportunity to gain invaluable experience about the world, people, food, foreign customs, and traditions.
Because of this life-changing experience at such an impressionable, young age, she fostered a passion for travel. Joann is fluent in Spanish and conversationally fluent in Italian. She has visited Uruguay, Argentina, France, Turkey, Estonia, and Finland. In the summer of 2005, she had the opportunity to study and live abroad in Rome, Italy, which was one of the best experiences of her life.
After she graduated from CSULA, she left Los Angeles and moved to her husband's hometown, Sacramento. Once in Sacramento, she and her husband bought a house. Once she settled into her new home, Joann began her attendance at McGeorge School of Law as an evening student, deciding on the school for its prestigious International Law Program.
Traveling abroad made Joann appreciate her own culture as well. She is an active member of Latino(a) Law School Association and McGeorge International Law Society. Joann hopes to work in International Law, specifically human rights or international business transactions, after graduation.
Joann, inspired by Justice Sonia Sotomayor, has faced many obstacles to pursue her dreams of becoming a lawyer. Justice Sotomayor's Puerto Rican background and her accomplishments against so many obstacles pushed Joann to keep moving forward with her dreams of becoming a lawyer. She recalls, "I knew I wanted to be a lawyer since I was little but it wasn't until I represented CSULA at the Model United Nations that I knew what I wanted to be. We were in the General Assembly and the Canadian Ambassador to the UN spoke to us about the importance of the UN and how he got there. It was very inspiring."
For Joann, pursuing a law degree at McGeorge is a goal she has had for herself for a long time, recognizing that "the best thing about coming to McGeorge has been the very real experience of achieving a dream that for some time seemed so far, almost like it was never going to happen because I was hesitant to go for it." After years of waiting for the right conditions to pursue this dream, she is finally in a good place to pursue and complete a law degree.