Like many children of immigrants, Judith Gallardo was the first in her family to graduate from college.
After getting a degree at UCLA, Gallardo went on to attend and graduate from law school — a path her father Agustin Gallardo predicted when she was in fifth grade. That prediction surfaced recently in the form of a note, one that made Judith cry.
"Through his time in Long Beach, he was always taking classes," Gallardo, now a deputy city prosecutor in Long Beach, said. "At about that time, he was taking a class to learn how to write in English."
Agustin was assigned to write a story about anything he wanted, and he decided to write about his daughter. The result was a hand-written note that said, in part:
"she is a very good student. She says that she want to be a lawyer when she be an adult."
That was when Gallardo was attending John Muir Elementary. She said last week she remembers her parents telling her she should be a lawyer.
"My parents were saying I was going to be a lawyer because I was always arguing," Gallardo said. "Then I discovered contracts, and I was always writing contracts with them, saying if I do this, I get that. They would say, ‘okay, I'll sign that contract.'"
The note was packed away, and Gallardo moved on to Stephens Middle School, where her career path was cemented with participation in a mock trial team.
"The teacher, Mr. (Patrick) Gillogly, was the first to really encourage me," she said. "He'd say my objections were good. And we got to go to downtown LA and visit a real courthouse."
As Gallardo progressed through school, her parents became American citizens and, in 2005, Agustin completed a career change. The custom car racing shop that had brought him to the U.S. moved its operation to Tijuana to save costs, and Agustin decided to become an independent long-haul trucker, buying his own truck. Her brother, 10 years older than Judith, attended Long Beach City College before joining the Army and serving in the Iraq War.
Agustin's truck couldn't meet new state standards just as the coronavirus pandemic hit, and he made the decision to retire. And here's where the note surfaced.
"They (mom Guadalupe and her father) were going through some documents when they found it," Gallardo said. "He put it with some other papers and gave it to me."
Gallardo's boss, City Prosecutor Doug Haubert, said that before Agustin gave the note to his daughter, he added another note.
"He wrote in his own hand the Spanish words, ‘Sueno cumplido gracias a dios, tu sueno se cumplio e tambian gracias a tu tenacidad,'" Haubert wrote in an email. "Translation: Dream completed thanks to God, your dream is complete also thanks to your tenacity."
"I just saw it for the first time a week ago," Gallardo said. "It made me cry. I don't cry about hardly anything, but I never cried like that before. I guess I really did accomplish my dream."
Gallardo has been an attorney for six years, the last two in the city prosecutor's office. She said she was in the middle of jury selection for her first trial when the coronavirus shutdown hit. But, she said, this really is her dream job.
"I love Long Beach," Gallardo said. "My first job was as a lifeguard at Silverado Pool. Now I'm really happy to work in the city prosecutor's office and make Long Beach a safer city. This allows me to give back."
And to fulfill a fifth grade dream.