I am the first Abelleira born in the United States from my family. This was a big deal for our family. And I never truly appreciated how special this was until I was accepted into law school. I remember my Abuelita (“Bita”) sitting me down, and telling me how proud she was of me, and that I have truly honored my family. Mind you, this was well before I ever argued before a court or settled a matter for a client. And I like to think that she remembered back to her and her husband leaving Cuba with their two young sons, with the hopes of creating better opportunities for her existing and future family members. My entrance into the legal field was a daily reminder that she made the right decision, and I strive every day to honor the sacrifice mi Bita y mi Abuelo made for our entire family so many years ago.
Growing up in a family of eight, we worried more about where our next meal would come from, and college was never mentioned as a possibility. But my extended Cuban American family always emphasized to me that education was the key to unlocking opportunities in life. I saw how they had left everything behind in Cuba and successfully started over in the United States, and they motivated me to pursue my dreams. When I think over my path from community college, night college, law school, and my 13 years of private practice—11 of them at Arthur Chapman—I am forever grateful for my heritage of hard work, and those who have believed in me and helped me along the way.
In the late 1700's my great-great-great Grandfather Antonio Avila and his wife Candida Aguiar left the Canary Islands in search of a more prosperous life across the Atlantic in Puerto Rico. Almost 200 years later my father did the same, leaving Puerto Rico for the mainland U.S. in search of the same dream. As a first generation Puerto Rican American and first lawyer who is a direct descendant of Antonio and Candida Avila-Aguiar, I am grateful for their courage and sacrifice and proudly take on the responsibility to further their legacy for future generations.