Cristina Perez ’86 addressed everything from her upbringing as the child of Colombian immigrants to national security and immigration reform at a recent Flintridge Prep assembly.
Perez’s long resume includes immigration attorney, international television personality (she was the first court television personality to cross over from Spanish language to English language television, and she won three consecutive Daytime Emmys for “Cristina’s Court”) and author of two books. She spoke in the all-school assembly about her experience learning English and adapting to US culture as a child, crediting her hard-working parents for teaching her to honor and respect herself and to not let anything stand in the way of her dreams.
“I had to realize that everything that I thought was a weakness was actually a strength,” she said. “When I left to begin my career as an attorney, my father said, ‘You can’t be afraid of who you are. No one else has the privilege to label you but yourself.’”
Describing herself “naturally passionate,” Perez loves the law and loves people. She sees one of her responsibilities as both a lawyer and a television personality to educate people and to explain both sides of a legal argument. She challenged students to be critical thinkers and avoid oversimplifying daunting subjects like immigration reform.
In 2015, Perez and her husband, Chris Gonzalez, also a lawyer, hosted students Wallis Herzog ’16 and Dante Fregoso ’16 at their law firm for Junior Internship Day. The students were given an in-depth understanding of the rigors working for a law firm. During the process, they got to know Perez and Gonzalez well and have kept in touch with their mentors.
After the assembly, Fregoso was among the students who remained behind to ask legal questions, remarking that Perez and her husband were kind and generous with their time and resources during his internship experience.
“I hope I can go back again soon,” he said.