My story is inspired by the search for a better life. It’s a story about creating a better future for my family—as well as being able to pay it forward to other families. But before I get ahead of myself, let’s go back to the beginning.
As a minority living in Russia, I was no stranger to prejudice, injustice and discrimination. Despite these challenges, I kept fighting for a better future, I was uneasy in my life and I had to figure out why. I decided to pursue my dream to become a lawyer. As time went on, I still felt like something was missing. While I enjoyed my work, I still wasn’t feeling fulfilled. I wanted to give back in some way. This led me to become involved with more human rights work. I started volunteering at a non-profit organization where I worked in an orphanage for disabled children with both mental and physical impairments. This is where my passion to advocate for vulnerable, disenfranchised groups who are in need of help first began.
In 1998, trying to escape the prejudice and limitations my family faced in Russia, we set off for a new life in the United States. Not sure what to expect, I found myself in a new country, speaking a new language and living a completely different life than I was accustomed to. During my first few years in America, I struggled, struggled with the language, fitting in, trying to find a job that was the right fit for me. I was working at a legal organization that didn’t support me or my desire to take the bar exam. In spite of my employer not allowing me to take time off, I continued to follow my heart to provide a better future for my children. I was fueled by my passion and worked late hours, studying every free moment. In 2008, I passed the California Bar Exam and officially became an attorney.
“In 1998, trying to escape the prejudice and limitations my family faced in Russia, we set off for a new life in the United States. Not sure what to expect, I found myself in a new country, speaking a new language and living a completely different life than I was accustomed to.”
From there I began practicing law, taking on various pro-bono cases while remaining active in the San Diego community. I got my first immigration case, and I knew that this was it. This was exactly where I was supposed to be. As an immigrant myself, I fell in love with this area of law as I immediately felt a spark of connection to all my clients. I knew I had found my calling and decided to specialize in immigration practice to help those like me.
I started looking into different non-profit organizations and continued to hear great things about Catholic Charities. I applied and was offered a position as a Senior Immigration Attorney for Catholic Charities’ Immigration Services. That was nearly two years ago—and I could have never expected it to take me where I am today.
Every day I have the opportunity to advocate for clients who are all from different walks of life. From legal support and advice to managing other attorneys, even though there are huge challenges, I truly love what I do. I have the ability to work with refugees, immigrants, children and many other groups facing challenges similar to ones I’ve been through myself.
It wasn’t until I found Catholic Charities that I finally felt fulfilled in my career. Catholic Charities’ mission of advocating for a just society by calling individuals to action on behalf of the poor, vulnerable and marginalized completely aligns with my personal values. Being able to personify mercy and hospitality through serving others is a mission that I feel very blessed to be a part of. Likewise, everyone I work with is aligned in this mission and I feel supported by my entire team. I could not achieve my successes without them; we are working together for a greater good and our number one focus is always about putting people first. I enjoy putting my skills and knowledge to the best use and am constantly learning more and more every day. Helping people and defending vulnerable members in my community has always been an important part of my life. I know that Catholic Charities is my home, this is exactly where I am supposed to be.
“I know that Catholic Charities is my home, this is exactly where I am supposed to be.”
I am very thankful to Catholic Charities for allowing me to live out my passion. Thanks to this loving and supportive organization, I can be a part of a bigger story and help create better futures for families.
Nadia’s story illustrates just how vital it is to have a welcoming and supportive community when building a new life and home in a new country. We ask that you give a gift today that empowers us to act on behalf the poor, vulnerable and marginalized in our communities.