Katherine Haddock ’13 always knew she wanted to give back to her community and have a career in a social justice field. Now an immigration lawyer at Helen Tarokic Law PLLC, she recently received an early promotion to senior associate.
At NC State, Haddock studied sociology and international studies. She says that Spanish language classes led her to a series of experiences that cemented her desire to work with the Latino community in the U.S. An Alternative Service Break in Guatemala her freshman year kindled an interest in Latin America and led her to take a University Scholars Program Border Issues Trip to the U.S.-Mexico border in her sophomore year. She credits the border trip with igniting a passion for immigration policy issues and inspiring her to pursue a career working with the immigrant community.
After graduating from NC State, Haddock went to law school where a volunteer experience and an inspiring professor helped her narrow her focus. “I realized immigration law was an area that I was passionate about, good at, and where I could potentially use my Spanish language skills on a daily basis.”
Every day, Haddock works with clients from all over the world with different cultural and life experiences. “I get to hear their stories and how they got to the U.S. The vast majority are hard-working individuals who are simply trying to survive and support families here. It is such an honor to get to meet and, in a small way, help these individuals make their lives better.”
She says that practicing immigration law can be challenging. “You deal with a lot of second-hand trauma and heartbreak. You have to deliver the bad news as well as the good.” Despite this, she finds her profession deeply rewarding. Her proudest accomplishments come when she is able to help clients who have worked on their own for years to gain legal status, including a recent case where she secured a green card and legal permanent residency for a client who had been working towards legalizing her status for more than 30 years. She also works extensively with the FBI and local law enforcement to improve reports of trafficking.
Common misconceptions about immigration lawyers include “that we either only help ‘illegals’ or that we only help ‘legal immigrants’ become citizens,” Haddock says. She explains they actually help both documented and undocumented immigrants through means established by Congress, including “U visas for victims of crime, T visas for victims of human trafficking, VAWA Self-Petitions for immigrants married to an abusive U.S. citizen or green card holder, Alien Relative Petitions for immigrants with a parent, child, or spouse who is a U.S. citizen or legal resident, and employment-based visas.”
Haddock says her experience at NC State created a strong foundation for her future career. “Through Park Scholarships, I began my college experience with the framework of being open to learning, looking for leadership opportunities, and pushing myself to find meaningful ways to give back to my community. This mindset led to many of my most challenging and best experiences at NC State and beyond.” To current Park Scholars, she recommends finding a balance between challenging yourself with educational, cultural, and leadership experiences and enjoying your time at NC State.