Former Lone Star College System summa cum laude international student, Diana Velardo, will be the keynote speaker Nov. 16 during LSC-CyFair’s joint International Education and Global Entrepreneurship Week celebration.
Velardo, a multi-lingual attorney specializing in immigration law, serves as the Executive Director of Artemis Justice Center, a nonprofit organization she founded to help victims of domestic violence, human trafficking and victims of crimes. (For information, go to www.artemisjusticecenter.org.)
“I have always spoken up wherever there was injustice,” said Velardo, who was appointed to the Unauthorized Practice of Law Committee by the Texas Supreme Court. “My mother said that I was a born attorney from the day I could babble. I felt that the path to justice would be easier if I had a law degree.”
After graduating high school with honors in Germany, Velardo came to the United States in 1994 to pursue her dream of becoming an attorney. She began with an associate degree at LSC-North Harris (formerly a North Harris Montgomery Community College District campus.) She went on to earn a bachelor’s in psychology and minor in sociology at the University of Houston with honors and her Juris Doctor at the University of Houston Law Center.
Velardo, a co-founder and past chair of the Houston Coalition Against Human Trafficking, returns to LSC for her keynote presentation “Have you met a slave today?” in which she will address human trafficking, an international problem with local implications.
“I want the audience to understand that ‘you are the future’ means that it comes with the responsibility for building a better life, not just for themselves, but for all those who are not as fortunate,” said Velardo. “I want them to realize that slavery is alive and well and it is not a problem of the past. I want them to know that they have the power to make a difference and change the world, one small deed at a time.”
Velardo is making a difference as a legal expert on issues of human trafficking, domestic violence and victims of crimes who mentors to attorneys in her field of expertise, presents at conferences, conducts trainings and serves on boards of several nonprofit organizations. Her dedication to such issues comes from her mother’s example. Volunteering alongside her mother at demonstrations, safe houses, abused women’s houses, refugee camps and more, she saw a part of the world that most people shield from their children.
“Seeing the plight and devastation that trafficking, wars and domestic abuse have on our fellow humans instilled in me the need to do something about it when I grew up,” said Velardo, who’s setting an example now for her own daughters, Artemis and Aphrodite. “Seeing my mother spend her days searching for the next homeless family she could put in our home, the next orphan she could help, left an everlasting impression in my soul.”
Don’t miss Velardo’s keynote presentation set 3 p.m. to 4 p.m. in the Conference Center, rooms 151-152 on the campus at 9191 Barker Cypress. For a full schedule of LSC-CyFair’s International Education and Global Entrepreneurship events Nov. 15 through Nov. 18, go to LoneStar.edu/cyfair.