Carolina Acosta’s Journey to a JD Degree and US Citizenship
Carolina Acosta, Senior Litigation Counsel, shares what led her to pursue a career in litigation, her journey to U.S. citizenship and why she loves working at Cboe.
Unlike the U.S., students in Colombia finish high school at 16, then choose their profession and pursue higher education for five years. Enthralled by the economic implications of a recent U.S.-Colombia treaty, then-17-year-old Colombia native, Carolina Acosta, considered international relations before ultimately becoming a lawyer, defending clients in court daily.
After a couple years, Carolina, now Senior Counsel at Cboe, grew tired of litigation and needed a change. With a continued interest in international affairs and passion for the law, she enrolled in a Master of Law (LLM) program to study international law in the U.S.
Carolina was a top student in her LLM class, which earned her the opportunity to participate in a slightly shortened law school program at the Chicago Kent School of Law, where she ultimately earned her U.S. Juris Doctor (JD), or law degree.
“My friends and family thought I was crazy,” she says. “I already attended law school and was licensed to practice in Colombia. They couldn’t understand why I would go to law school again but I am really passionate about the law and wanted a deeper understanding of the U.S. judicial system.”
During law school, Carolina worked for a broker-dealer, which sparked her interest in the financial services industry.
“I really enjoyed working for a broker-dealer and gaining an understanding of the financial markets, as well as complex securities law,” she says. “But I wanted to understand more about the ‘other’ side and how exchanges operate. That’s how I found Cboe.”
Carolina joined Cboe in March 2021 and dove right in, working closely with Jenny Golding, Cboe’s Chief Litigation Officer, on Cboe’s most pressing legal issues. Together, Jenny and Carolina monitor Cboe’s pending litigation, defend Cboe in current litigation and work to resolve potential issues before they reach litigation.
“I love my job. Every day is different and exciting and each day I have the opportunity to do work I truly enjoy,” Carolina says. “Plus, I feel very lucky to work on such a wonderful team and to have such a supportive manager in Jenny.”
As Carolina began to build a career she loved in the U.S., there was just one thing she felt she was missing: U.S. citizenship. After living in Chicago for more than six years, she came to consider the U.S. a home-away-from-home and wanted the opportunity to contribute to the country by voting in elections and other civic opportunities that are only available to citizens.
So, Carolina applied to become a U.S. citizen – a long and rigorous process that requires a lot of paperwork, time and…more studying! More than a year after she began the process, Carolina attended her naturalization ceremony and received her U.S. citizenship in August of this year.
“I’m a proud U.S. citizen who is still Colombian at heart,” she says. “I will always carry my Colombian heritage with me, but now I have the opportunity to make an impact in the U.S. I hope my culture will enrich the country and help make it a better place.”
Now, after a lot of hard work and determination, Carolina is soaking it all in.
“The right doors opened to lead me to the opportunities that brought me here, to this incredible job in a country that I love,” she says. “But I also believe that when you dream big and work really hard, everything will fall into place.”