LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — Our Hispanic Heritage Month special airs tonight featuring City of North Las Vegas Senior Deputy Attorney Marisa Rodriguez.

Rodriguez is a first-generation high school and college graduate who is helping underrepresented students overcome challenges she faced.

In tonight’s Hispanic Heritage Special, Hector Mejia introduces us to one of the driving forces behind the Andale 5K race, Marisa Rodriguez.

Helping Latino students sprint to law school, the Andale 5K scholarship fundraiser is doing its part to close a huge gap in the legal field.

Fewer than 5% of the nation’s attorneys are Hispanic, but make up more than 18-percent of the population.

“There’s something really powerful about setting a goal and then crossing that finish line that,” Marisa Rodriguez, senior deputy city attorney, City of North Las Vegas said.

Marisa Rodriguez, a woman who broke barriers as she pushed to make it to law school at the age of 30.

“We didn’t know anyone who was an attorney. It was hard for me to find the path. I am a first-generation high school graduate, college student, and attorney,” she said.

The UNLV grad is now senior deputy city attorney, representing the City of North Las Vegas with pretty much any legal problem.

“I owe so much to this city because it has provided people with the background that my family has to have a better life for their children,” she added.

Earlier this year, she became the first Latina elected to the State Bar of Nevada Board of Governors.

“In Spanish, there’s a saying ‘querer es poder,’ if there’s a will there’s a way,” she added.

Rodriguez is an example of the American dream. Born in Chicago, she grew up in Durango, Mexico, then moved to Las Vegas at 12-years old.

“Both of my parents were born and raised in rural towns in Mexico with no access to formal education. My family moved to las vegas in the early 90s to work in the casino industry,” she said.

When she’s not in the office, she organizes the Andale 5K race, which funds law school admission prep courses and exams for Latino students.

Rodriguez founded the scholarship fundraiser back in 2019 when she was president of what’s now the Nevada Latino Bar Association.

“There are so many possibilities and we need representation across the board, but once you get there just remember that we are a part of a community,” she added.

She lends this advice to those currently pushing through school.