Cynthia Vega’s journey to joining the Clinic staff team is a little more circuitous than most. Currently, she serves as one of our two receptionists and as a bilingual paralegal for various immigration cases, as well as for our Low Income Taxpayer Clinic (LITC). But two years ago, Cynthia found herself at a crossroads in her life. She was living in California, between jobs, and considering going back to school. The Christmas holidays were just around the corner, so Cynthia decided to take a trip to visit her mother, who lived in Indianapolis.
While she was in town, Cynthia started working at the Clinic as a temporary receptionist to cover for her aunt, Alicia Dimas, our full-time receptionist, who was on an extended leave to care for a sick family member.
“Alicia was going to take some time off and they were looking for someone to cover reception until she came back. I was here visiting my mom and I wasn’t working at the time—and she asked me if I would be interested,” says Cynthia. “I figured, why not? I applied and interviewed and got the job … [and then they] asked me to stay on staff when Alicia returned.”
Because of the unique nature of her position, working as both a receptionist and as a paralegal, Cynthia gets to see clients throughout the entire process of their cases. She loves this, saying, “I walk alongside them, as well as greeting them at the door. I get to see the beginning and the end. And all the middle too.” In some regards, getting to know these individual stories has helped to contextualize Cynthia’s own history. “Growing up with my family, my grandparents were immigrants from Mexico,” she says. “I didn’t appreciate the sacrifices that my family has had to make until I saw how much getting a Green Card or a work permit or any help from the Clinic has meant to people who sacrificed everything to come here. That’s opened my eyes.”
When Cynthia talks about her favorite part of working at the Clinic, she mentions the people and the relationships. She tells the story of trying to explain detailed information about a tax case to a client in Spanish. “I don’t know how to describe taxes to someone in English, let alone in Spanish,” Cynthia laughs. But she says that Jim Floyd, our LITC Enrolled Agent, was incredibly patient, breaking down all of the important information as simply as possible, so that she could explain it clearly to the client. “I feel like we were both learning at the same time.”
Although Cynthia may not have predicted that her visit to Indiana would turn into a permanent move, she is so grateful for the way things turned out. “A lot of people come to the Clinic and are very desperate and don’t know what to do. They feel like they’ve been backed into a corner and they’re ready to give up. And then they speak to us,” she says. “This job has humbled me so much. I feel like I see people differently. I’ve seen God in so many more ways here than I have anywhere else. And I think that’s why I love the Clinic so much.”