Posted: December 16th, 2019 | By: Kaitlyn Ruhf
The dream to take his legal studies beyond the borders of Colombia had been something Mauricio Zuluaga (LLM ’13) had carried with him since graduating from Pontificia Universidad Javeriana in 2002.
This dream, which would be realized 10 years later with his wife, Catalina Garzon (LLM ’13), by his side, would take both of them to the American South to a metropolitan city tucked in the outskirts of southern Appalachia.
“After several years of hard work in law,” Zuluaga says, “my wife and I decided to invest in a high quality education and accomplish one of our dreams. We wanted to experience a different cultural and academic environment as well as improve our professional profiles.”
Zuluaga, who was formerly a senior lawyer at a Colombia-based financial company, and Garzon, a former senior lawyer at Bancolombia, would find Wake Forest School of Law through the Fulbright Scholarship program.
“My main goal in pursuing my LLM at Wake Forest,” Garzon says, “was to acquire a global vision of the legal system that would allow me to develop products that increased public access to the financial system.”
Both Zuluaga and Garzon describe their time at Wake Forest as a cherished year in their lives, one that has allowed them to develop as people and as professionals. Zuluaga specifically notes how – in addition to his improved English proficiency – his experiences with Wake Forest JD students and other international students allowed him to expand his professional relationships throughout the world.
“I’m still connected with international and American classmates,” Zuluaga says. “When I have a question about legal matters in another country, I have always had someone to call.”
These series of discoveries, of lessons and interactions, also informed Zuluaga about the different opportunities in the legal profession, empowering him to establish his own business back in Colombia.
“When I left the country to study abroad,” Zuluaga says “I discovered different opportunities in the legal field, so I decided to start my own law firm in Colombia that mainly focuses on commercial and tax law. After graduating, I’ve been able to deal with international transactions and clients abroad.”
Garzon, too, benefited from these experiences. Soon after graduating, she was promoted to legal director at Bancolombia, where she was responsible for product innovation and personal banking.
In reflecting on their time at Wake Forest, which is often accompanied by memories of a beautiful campus and lively downtown, both Zuluaga and Garzon note the importance of Wake Forest in their lives now.
“Nowadays, Wake Forest is part of our life,” Zuluaga says. “Every time a professor or staff member visits Colombia, I meet them.”
“When I have meetings with potential investors from the U.S., I’m proud to tell that that I’m a Wake Forest alumna, which makes me feel confident to engage in negotiation.”