Samantha M. Contreras is an Illinois native, having grown up in Kankakee, Illinois, about an hour north of Urbana-Champaign. She earned her bachelor’s degree in Liberal Arts & Sciences in the department of Latina/Latino Studies with high distinction and Communications. For her Senior Honor’s Thesis, she explored the effects of an ICE Detention Center in her hometown in a paper titled, “So Many Arms of the State”: Presence of an ICE Detention Center in a Midwestern Town and Latina/o Sense of Well-being. After completing her bachelor’s degree, she went on to earn her Juris Doctorate at Notre Dame Law School. While at Notre Dame Law School Samantha was involved in several different organizations but serving as a Legal Extern for the National Immigration Justice Center was one of her favorite experiences.
Samantha currently resides in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and is an Associate in the Tax, Corporate, Wealth Planning groups at Michael Best & Friedrich LLP. Samantha freely and warmly acknowledges much of her success to the Latina/Latino Studies department at UIUC. It was there where she found three of her most generous, challenging, and helpful professors who greatly aided her in her law school application process.
“The Latina/Latino Studies department is where I found my home away from home. In the LLS Department we read books by authors from our culture, we analyzed the nuances of Latinos in the eyes of the law in Criminalization and Punishment, we studied the history behind the politics of hip-hop, and so much more. Some of my most fond memories from undergrad took place in my LLS classes where I met some of my favorite mentors and lifelong friends (shoutout to Patricia Escutia <3). If I was having a bad day, a good day, bad news, exciting news, I went there to share it with Professor Lisa Cacho, Instructor David Coyoca, or the late, but always beloved, Professor Edna Viruell-Fuentes. They pushed me, they helped me, they made me better and in return I will love them and the LLS program forever. Thank you, LLS for being my home at such a transformative time in my life! “