By: Janet Villarreal
At first glance, Jaime Resendez seems like your typical attorney: clean cut, suited up, and walking with this air of confidence about him. Others find him a bit shy and mysterious, but one thing we can all agree on is this: there’s definitely more to him than meets the eye.
A child of immigrants from Mexico, Resendez grew up in Pleasant Grove, a community not unlike the ones most Latinos in DFW grew up in. It was the year 2000, Resendez was fresh out of high school, and though he wasn’t sure what which career path to take, he knew the importance of getting a college education. “I didn’t know anyone with a college education, but I remember every successful person I’d see on TV had a degree, and they weren’t broke. Since my parents didn’t have the money for college, the only option I had was to join the military. So at 17, before 9/11, I enlisted in the U.S. Army.” This decision led him to where he is today, a successful attorney pursuing a position on the Dallas Independent School District Board of Trustees.
Infórmate DFW: What was your experience like in the military, how do you believe it has influenced your life?
Jaime Resendez: Being in Baghdad, Iraq, where we did a lot of convoys and drove around in areas where people were being shot at and killed on a daily basis, was a life altering experience for me. At 23, it gave me totally different perspective in life. When I came back from my deployment, as I was sitting in my air conditioned classroom feeling very fortunate, I thought to myself, “All I have to do is study and read books. I don’t have to be intelligent or smart, I just have to work hard and put forth the effort.”
IDFW: Is this when you realized you wanted to be an attorney?
Resendez: Actually, initially I wanted to be a firefighter, I figured it would be exciting, the pay wasn’t bad, the hours were cool, and I would be saving lives, but then I got interested in Kinesiology. After Eastfield, I enrolled at UNT Dallas, where I kept hearing all this talk about ‘law school’ this, and ‘graduate school’ that. I was in my mid-twenties and at that point I still didn’t know how an attorney became an attorney. I started doing research and after a while, three more years in school didn’t seem so bad. I could see myself as a lawyer from Pleasant Grove, where a lot of people don’t graduate high school, much less graduate from college. So, I took the LSAT, and did well enough to enroll at UT.
IDFW: So what do you think about practicing law so far?
Resendez: Law School was brutal, maybe one of the worst experiences in my life. I’m glad I went through it, but it was an overwhelming amount of work. Being at UT turned out to be a whole different experience than what I expected, I learned a lot about society, I was culture-shocked. I realized it’s no coincidence that kids from economically disadvantaged households and communities don’t make it to Law Schools at UT. The people I encountered came from families where the parents were doctors and judges, went to private school and graduated from Yale and Harvard. So, they weren’t there necessarily because they were smarter than me, but mainly because we didn’t have the same opportunities. Now that I’m here, it’s a great feeling walking into a courthouse and I love what I do. It’s challenging, every situation is different and I especially enjoy juvenile cases, with kids that are going through a rough time in their lives.
IDFW: Is this why you’re running for the DISD Board of Trustees?
Resendez: Well, think about this: close to 90% of kids in DISD qualify for free or reduced school lunches, which means they come from economically disadvantaged homes, kind of like me. I want
to see our kids be successful. Their success is directly correlated to the success of our city, our state and our country. We need to have a work force that’s ready to take on these 21st century jobs and stay competitive with the world. These kids are our future, we need to educate them.
IDFW: What will you be bringing to the table as a trustee?
Resendez: My perspective and my background. I’m not an expert in anything, but I can’t think of one person with the same perspective as me. Coming from where I come from, going through what I went through with the war, UT Law, and now as an attorney. I also advocate for others on a daily basis, which is something I plan on doing as a trustee, advocate for children and education.
Regarding our future generations, Resendez suggests parents instill the importance of reading at an early age. “Reading is related to education and success, it’s the reason why I’m running as trustee. Knowledge is Power, no matter what you pursue in life. This is what most successful people have in common; they read a lot! I feel that strongly about it. Reading is the key to success.”
Without a doubt, Mr. Resendez would have a bright future in politics, should he ever decide to pursue one. Resendez, however, insists he’s just taking it one day at a time. “If I am elected, I want to completely commit myself to serve as a trustee,” states Resendez. “If I feel comfortable in that position and that’s where I will make the biggest difference, I will stay there as long as I can.”