Dean’s Fellow Francesca Camacho: Let your interests guide you, and things will fall into place
Once Cooley Dean’s Fellow Francesca Camacho participated in her high school’s mock trial team, she realized the law was calling her.
“We were practicing every day for the competition, even on the weekends,” explained Camacho. “Part of the training was learning how to get comfortable with the rules. It was a lot of work. Then it was our turn to stand in a courtroom, just like we were conducting a trial ourselves. I thought to myself, dang, this is fun!”
But it wasn’t until after she attended the University of California Irvine, earning her undergraduate major in Criminology, Law & Society (CLS) that Camacho answered the call to be an attorney.
“At first, I was trying to figure out what kind of law I wanted to do, but the pandemic hit, and I returned home to Guam after taking LSAT there while I worked at a law firm to get a sense of what area of law I wanted to follow.”
Born and raised in Guam, Camacho was 17 years old when she moved to California to pursue her college degree. A descendent of the indigenous Chamorro people of the United States territory of Guam, she found out about Cooley Law School through many Michigan connections in her homeland.
“We have a lot of alumni who graduated from Cooley Law School here,” shared Camacho. “When I initially worked at a law firm while the pandemic was clearing out, people had heard that I was looking at law schools and highly recommended Cooley. I was even able to talk to a 2018 Cooley grad who guided me through the law school process. She shared some great advice about the classes and professors, and where I might get a great externship. It’s such a positive thing to have a strong Cooley network, especially being thousands of miles away from home.”
That sense of belonging and connection made all the difference.
GUAM TO MICHIGAN CONNECTIONS
“I had already done California in college and wanted a change of pace, so when I learned that some of my family did their undergrad in the Midwest, including my grandfather and grandmother getting their undergraduate degrees from Michigan, I was sold,” exclaimed Camacho. I was so impressed with my family because that would have been a giant leap of faith for them to travel from Guam to come Michigan.”
It all seemed to be a sign for Camacho. She figured that if so many people from Guam were choosing Cooley, and it worked out for them, then it would certainly work out for her.
Now a 3L at Cooley Law School, Camacho knows she made the right choice, even if the cold weather was a bit of a shock.
“I never realized how cold it would get,” smiled Camacho. “But now that I’m nearing the end of law school, I am ready for what’s next.
“Coming to Cooley was everything though. It happened naturally through my organizational involvement. I was able to build a network of people I connected with and trusted. Now I get to enjoy building those kinds of connections with our incoming students. I appreciate the close-knit, long-term connections I have made with my fellow students and the professors. I know I will keep those friendships, even after I graduate and move back home.”
REAL-WORLD PRACTICE TRAINING
Camacho’s involvement at Cooley included being accepted as a Dean’s Fellow.
“When I decided to apply to be a Dean’s Fellow, I remember thinking it would be a great way to prepare and refresh myself on older topics, plus it would be a chance to build my interpersonal skills, especially if I wanted to go into government work. It’s been rewarding, and I think being a Dean’s Fellow is a great training ground for being able to translate whatever you learn in law school to the real world of practice.”
Graduation is coming up quickly for Camacho and she already has some ideas for how she would like to start her career.
“I hope to be a criminal prosecutor with the Attorney General’s Office once I am back home,” said Camacho. “I’ve worked with the court before and I also plan to do my externship there in my last term at Cooley. I worked for a defense firm as well, and liked it, but now that I have seen both sides, I am leaning toward prosecution. It’s all very exciting.”
It’s also not hard to imagine that having her godmother as a role model in the Attorney General’s Office has shaped her interest and passion for prosecution.
“I see all the work that she does, and all the lives she’s impacting in so many amazing ways. I want to help people and effect change in that way,” shared Camacho.
SERVING THE PEOPLE OF GUAM
Camacho has already effected change in her time at Cooley helping in the organizations she’s been involved with, including Mock Trial.
“I felt good about recently helping my law school colleagues as their coach for their Mock Trial arguments, and giving them some constructive input, especially since I had taken evidence and most of my core classes, in addition to competing before. It was exciting to see them all working so hard and wanting to get the most out of the experience. It was a little bittersweet completing my leadership with Mock Trial though since it was going to be my last law school competition."
She has learned a lot about herself in her time at Cooley and in Michigan, and she is certain of one thing. Let your interests guide you, and everything else will fall into place.
“I used to think I needed to know exactly what I wanted to do in order to move forward, then at one point I just started letting go of that thought, especially when I found mock trial and restarted the criminal law society. I started doing things that were interest-guided rather than padding my resume or trying to be the most accomplished person at school. I got into organizations because I was truly interested in them.”
Nowadays, there’s not much free time for Camacho, but when she wants to relax, she likes to read. And when she’s not reading, she loves going to the beach, hanging out with friends, snorkeling, and is looking forward to getting back into spin cycling classes once she is home after graduation.