“The Colleges of Law opened a door for me I never thought possible,”
Gabriella Navarro-Busch’s success as a legal advocate for immigrants today can be attributed to her stalwart persistence and dedication to excellence stemming from high school. “I got married at the age of 15 and had my first child shortly thereafter,” she says. “Many people wrote me off and even urged me to quit school. I began advocating for myself from that moment, determined to graduate with my class and prove everyone wrong.”
By the age of 20, Navarro-Busch was divorced with two young girls to care for. But she also earned her community college degree and began a career as a police dispatcher, which would last a full 20 years. In the late 80s, feeling an urge to do more with her life, Navarro-Busch enrolled at the Colleges of Law, Ventura campus.
“The Colleges of Law opened a door for me I never thought possible,” she says. “My first couple years were not at all easy, but knowing I had professors and administrators that would go to bat for me meant a lot.”
Along the way, Navarro-Busch interned with a legal services organization that served an underprivileged, often immigrant, population. “Being bilingual and an immigrant myself, it was a good fit,” she says. “I felt like I was helping people achieve the same American Dream my family was striving for.”
In 2001, she opened her own practice in Ventura, Calif., and has always felt most passionate about representing victims of crime.
“Immigrants are often targeted because they report crimes at lower rates, for fear of deportation,” she explains. “But thankfully, the law protects immigrants in these cases. My job is to advocate for their rights, and I don’t take no for an answer. I will explore all avenues in a case, making sure my clients have a strong voice in the courtroom.”
In 2004, Navarro-Busch received the State Bar of California President’s Pro Bono Service Award for her work in the community.
“If I were to sum up what I hope my legacy in the community is in one word, it would be compassion,” she says. “The Colleges of Law showed me that. While the typical law school experience means viewing your classmates as your competition, the Colleges of Law was a true community of compassionate educators and students.”