Alumnae Bring First-Time Homebuyers Course to BU Law
Claudia Gongora (LL.M. '11) and Carolina Trujillo (LL.M. '01) inspired to give back to community that grew their careers
Claudia Gongora (LL.M ‘11) and Carolina Trujillo (LL.M ‘01) turned the tables this April when they returned to the tower to offer a lesson of their own to the BU Law community: a first-time homebuyers class. The idea was to help students, alumni and staff learn about mortgages, home inspections and down payment assistance programs to make buying that first home easier.
Gongora and Trujillo, both graduates of the Banking & Financial Law LL.M. Program, had been teaching similar classes through Neighborhood of Affordable Housing (NOAH) when they realized that a lot of graduating students were attending. They began thinking about coming back to their alma mater to help their community.
“I was one of those students 10 or 12 years ago, and I bought my house with a first-time homebuyers class," says Trujillo. "If I have this knowledge, why not go back to the same people who have helped me?”
The course offers a certificate allowing those with lower and moderate incomes to qualify for lower interest rates and more flexible mortgages. It is co-sponsored by NOAH, a nonprofit dedicated to improving the lives of Massachusetts residents through affordable housing and community planning, and the Foundation for Financial Education (F3E), a nonprofit committed to providing free financial educational resources to the public.
“In this economy, this generation has less assets than those before,” said Gongora. “So at the beginning of young professionals’ careers, it is a good idea for them to start building up their assets.”
In the future, Gongora and Trujillo hope to offer the class for BU Law again, with the goal of teaching it twice a year, once in the fall and once in the spring.
The BU Law alumni connection
This is not the first time Trujillo, who now works as a residential loan officer at Eastern Bank, has reached back to help those at her alma mater. NOAH and BU Law have a strong history.
The relationship began when Trujillo was working as the director of education and counseling at NOAH. When she found her workload to be too heavy for one person to handle, she reached back to BU Law. Working with Associate Director Martin Lacdao and Assistant Director Lorraine Kaplan from the Graduate Program in Banking & Financial Law, Trujillo helped set up internships for BU Law students with NOAH.
“For students this is a really good opportunity because you’re learning negotiation skills,” says Kaplan. “A contract is a contract, so you’re gaining a lot of really useful skills to take with you in whatever legal career you pursue.”
Trujillo credits the diligent work and practical skill base the BU Law students exhibited during their internships for helping the organization, and thus her own career, grow.
“The interns that I had from BU Law were the ones that made a huge difference in how we could grow. When I started at NOAH, I was the only employee for that department, and now that department has seven staff members, and they still have the internship program.”
Gongora knew about NOAH through the BU Law network and began volunteering there while she was searching for a job. Soon after, she was hired to work full-time with the organization as a foreclosure prevention counselor.
“I think that graduating in 2011, finding a job was really difficult. But because of my program, I knew about NOAH and could knock on their door,” Gongora explains. “Nowadays we have students interns and alumni staff members, so we have a BU Law family.”
Trujillo, who was the first LL.M. graduate to be awarded the Young Lawyer’s Chair by BU Law in 2009 for her performance and commitment in her career, still looks back fondly upon the opportunities the School allowed her.
“I feel BU Law has given me so much,” says Trujillo. “It’s not only that I went to school here, but my career is based on that program. Every single day I use everything I learned at BU, and my education has continued to help me grow in my career.”
Reported by Elyssa Sternberg