Q&A with Sumner Immigration Law Paralegal Nikita Hernandez

Q: Tell us about your background. Where did you go to school/what did you study/where did you work previously?

A: I grew up a military brat, or “gypsy” as my retired, active duty Air Force mom would say. We moved every 2-3 years, mostly around the U.S. south, mid-west, and internationally only once to Japan before we retired in Florida. I started my career in Tampa, Florida as a writer for a litigation firm drafting complaints, case file summaries, and special projects. I studied creative writing and poetry at the University of Tampa, and graduated a year early with honors.

Q: What drew you to immigration law?

A: I never actively pursued a career in immigration law, and fell into it by chance when I sought to move out of Florida. I already had skills pertaining to a law firm environment, and I wasn’t able to find a job in the publishing/writing industry at that time. Interestingly enough, my college career aptitude/personality test pointed out that a paralegal position would suit me perfectly.

Q: Do you collect anything?

A: I love tea, especially chai. So naturally the next step was to start collecting teapots—at first by saving pictures of amazing teapots from the internet, to slowly accumulating physical teapots. I currently have about 12 teapots, with the most recent addition being a 100 year old teapot from Japan I found at Diversity Thrift here in Richmond. Less notably, I’m also on a mission to complete my national parks state quarters collection the U.S. Mint introduced in 2010 that runs through 2021.

Q: What’s your earliest memory?

A: My earliest memories are from my childhood in Japan when I was 3-5 years old and my mom was stationed outside Tokyo as a helicopter/airplane mechanic. I remember ballet classes, a fellow Air Force family we spent time with, the exact layout of our base housing, visiting my mom at work, a wrench in her hand and how huge the planes seemed, these amazing roller slides at the park, and the beautiful wooden walking sticks tied with pink ribbon and sleigh bells we used when climbing Mt. Fuji.

Q: What is your favorite season/why? Any favorite seasonal activities you like to do?

A: It’s no secret that I adore autumn and all other seasons pale in comparison. Watching the leaves blossom into beautiful golds, reds, ochres, and oranges is something I could stare at all day. I also love traditional fall activities like visiting pumpkin patches, drinking warm, comforting drinks like more chai tea lattes or hot cocoa, coking hearty chilis or soups, and being able to wear comfy sweaters and boots.

Q: If you were to host a dinner party, what would you make?

A: My dinner party spread would include a wonderfully crisp baguette with olive oil and spices for dipping, a fresh salad tossed with cucumbers, bell peppers, carrots and radishes, and Italian dressing; and my mom’s and grandfather’s famous lasagna. For dessert I would serve individual chocolate molten lava cakes, and ice cream on the side. I’m getting hungry just thinking about it!

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