PSJA ISD Makes History


New PSJA Pre-Law Institute set to provide opportunities for high school students interested in careers in the legal field


High school students in the Rio Grande Valley who desire to pursue a career in the legal field will get a jumpstart on their dreams through the newly launched Pharr-San Juan-Alamo ISD (PSJA ISD) Pre-Law Institute.  

PSJA ISD held a kickoff for the Pre-Law Institute on Friday, Nov. 30 at PSJA Early College High School in San Juan. Aimed to mentor and guide high school students interested in pursuing careers in the legal field, the Pre-Law Institute is the first program of its kind in the area.

According to PSJA School Board President Jesse Zambrano, the goal of the district’s new Pre-Law Institute is to provide PSJA students interested in a career in law with one-on-one mentorship from local attorneys and judges, insight on what it takes to get admitted into law school, and opportunities to be part of special workshops, job shadowing, and internships.   


As part of the kickoff, current attorneys and judges who are also PSJA ISD alumni spoke to 10th-, 11th-, and 12th-graders about their experiences in the field and the importance of taking advantage of the opportunities they will receive being part of the Pre-Law Institute. Guest speakers included Probate Court Judge-Elect JoAnne Garcia, Judge Rodolfo “Rudy” Gonzalez, Judge Arnoldo Cantu Sr., and attorney Mike Cano.   



“No other school district in Hidalgo County has a Pre-Law Institute like this,” Cantu told students. “Your school leaders are at the cutting edge of innovation and constantly working to provide the best educational opportunities for you.”   



In addition to the guest speakers, students witnessed a real sentencing hearing hosted by Hidalgo County Judge Luis Singleterry. Students also got a glimpse of what to expect in law school through a Law School Classroom Simulation hosted by University of Texas Rio Grande Valley professor and attorney Jaime Peña.  


 “Lawyers are no different than you are,” Cano said in his closing remarks. “Your journey is not going to be easy. Law school is not going to be easy, but just believe in yourself and you will be able to do anything.”


Nearly 300 PSJA ISD high school students are currently signed up to be part of the first cohort. They will have the opportunity to engage in numerous workshops, job shadowing, and even internship opportunities starting in spring 2019.   

For more information about the new PSJA Pre-Law Institute, please visit