Attorney Emma Hilario-Ballesteros ?84 Chosen to Lead Cal Poly Pomona Alumni Association

Attorney Emma Hilario-Ballesteros ?84 Chosen to Lead Cal Poly Pomona Alumni Association
Attorney Emma Hilario-Ballesteros '84 is the 2003-04 president of the Cal Poly Pomona Alumni Association.

In addition to her time spent taking on family law, immigration and probate cases, alumna Emma Hilario-Ballesteros will now also devote herself to serving as 2003-04 president of the Cal Poly Pomona Alumni Association.

Hilario-Ballesteros ?84, MBA, was elected at the June 26 Alumni Association meeting to serve as president for the 2003-04 year. Other officers elected include: Barbara Jean Bruin, internal vice president; Paul Viveros, external vice president; Cheryl Russell, vice president at large; Linda Adams, general secretary; and Bruce Kirby, vice president of finance.

Serving in a leadership position is nothing new to Hilario-Ballesteros, who has owned and operated her own Los Angeles-based law practice for nearly 10 years.

The Cal Poly Pomona alumna was always a model student. Demonstrating a proclivity for math and science, she and her family thought she would become a teacher and stay close to home. Instead, Ballesteros ended up settling halfway around the world and running a successful law practice in downtown Los Angeles.

“When I was growing up, I never thought I would be an attorney,” she says. “A lot of people said I was very quiet and very introverted. But I?ve changed. I?m now more vocal, and I love what I am doing, so one never knows.”

Ballesteros was raised in the Pangasinan province of the Philippines in a large working-class family. Her father valued education and managed to pay for all of his 10 children to go to college. Ballesteros graduated from the University of Santo Tomas in Manila with a degree in chemical engineering.

The ink was barely dry on her diploma when Ballesteros decided to pursue engineering job opportunities in America. In the mid-70s she got a job in Orange County with Pacific Bell.

“I knew that to be able to compete with all the others, I had to better myself in the way that I perform. That meant going back to school,” she says.

The company extended a financed opportunity for her to pursue a graduate business degree. Ballesteros found that Cal Poly Pomona allowed her to attend classes around a family-and-work schedule. Five years later, she earned her MBA and was promoted to senior engineer manager.

But Ballesteros didn?t stop there. The company sent her to a management course that included an introduction to facets of employment law, such as dealing with sexual harassment, discrimination and affirmative action. She began to acquire a personal interest in how law affects society.

“For whatever reason, it just came out of my mouth. I said, ?You know, I think I?m going to go to law school,'” she recounts telling her boss.

Before she knew it, she was studying law at Western State University, initially focusing on just having the knowledge, not necessarily about becoming an attorney.

“It was nice to have it on my resume. Even if I didn?t make it, I still had a job,” she says. “But during the last year of law school, I started thinking 'Do I really want to use it?' I realized it was time to venture into a change from a long career in engineering.”

Ballesteros left PacBell after 17 years, working briefly with other lawyers in civil litigation and personal injury cases. It wasn?t long before she built up a clientele and opened her own practice in downtown Los Angeles. Now in her 10th year, Ballesteros spends much of her time taking on family law, immigration and probate cases.

“I always believed that life is what you make of it,” she says. ?And if there is something you desire, you should go after it and do the best you can.”