Staff Spotlight: No Child Left Behind: Miriam Araya Helps All Children Have a Voice
By Costa Nikolaides
When families face legal issues children are the ones most negatively affected, and this is especially true for those in low-income families. Enter CVLS’ Child Rep Program! Through this venture, CVLS works to connect pro bono attorneys to children in need of representation. Integral to this process is Child Rep Coordinator, Miriam Araya.
Miriam graduated from Princeton University, earning a degree in Sociology with a certificate in African Studies. Grateful for her education, Miriam feels an obligation to give back to her community. This drove her to apply for and be accepted to Princeton’s P55 Fellowship, a program geared toward helping undergraduates gain experience in the field of public service. Thanks to that, in 2015, Miriam came to CVLS.
As Child Rep Program Coordinator, Miriam has helped shape the program. Along with matching representatives with children, Miriam makes sure they have all of the information and documents needed for the representation. Moreover, Miriam goes the extra mile to ensure that every child gets what they need. In her very first case, the location of the child for whom Miriam was supposed to arrange representation was unknown. The child’s father had been sent to prison, but before being incarcerated he dropped the child off with a relative, and he refused to say where he had sent the child. Miriam worked tirelessly with the attorney on the case, investigating possible addresses, meeting with the father in prison, and collaborating with a detective until they were finally able to locate and meet with the child.
Miriam’s studies in sociology have helped her relate to clients by giving her an understanding of their backgrounds and the types of struggles they have faced, while her work with CVLS has given her insight into how complicated the legal system can be. These experiences have given her an appreciation for how great the need is for all people to have access to legal representation, and has thereby cemented her decision to become a public interest lawyer. Meanwhile, her can-do spirit and kindness have made her a pleasure to work with and a veritable force for change. Way to go Miriam!