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Isai Carranza poses for photo at the Boston Marathon.

ISAI CARRANZA: The Boston Marathon provided Carranza with a unique experience.

Bell Tower Magazine | Business and Industry | Alumni | BT-CurrentOctober 20, 2022

Chasing the American Dream

Written By: Antoinette Grajeda

A massive crowd gathered along the 126th Boston Marathon route in April to support 30,000 athletes including Isaí Carranza ‘16. Having run mostly smaller races, he was shocked by the constant cheering along the entire 26-mile route. 

“That was a really, really cool experience,” he said.

Carranza discovered his talent for running in eighth grade. After he completed a mile quickly during a physical education class, his teacher urged him to join the cross country team at Rogers Heritage High School. He joined that summer and enjoyed it from the start.

“I was decent at it, and it was a great group of people to be around,” he said.

Carranza competed for four years of high school running, and colleges came recruiting. He ultimately chose the University of Arkansas - Fort Smith because it felt like the right fit.

“A couple of the runners already there had been my previous teammates at Rogers Heritage. Having that relationship with them was helpful in making the decision: Yes, this is where I want to go to school; this is where I want to run,” he said.

From 2012 to 2016, Carranza ran with the cross-country team while studying finance and international business. Through his participation in student government, he met legislators and people doing legal work, which inspired him to become an attorney.

He earned his doctorate of law from the University of Arkansas School of Law in 2022 and works as a data privacy attorney. Having the flexibility to shift the focus of his career down the line was an appealing aspect of becoming a lawyer. 

“I feel maybe later on in my life if I want to switch over to something that’s more of a passion like maybe do immigration work or do family law, I have that option,” he said.

In law school, Carranza assisted with visa and asylum work at the UA’s immigration clinic. He also clerked at a law office with several Hispanic clients and said serving that community is important as the son of Mexican immigrants. While his family didn’t push him to become an attorney, Carranza said they allowed him to believe he could do certain things.

“They are pretty supportive, proud of the work that I’ve done,” he said.

Carranza is the first in his family to earn an undergraduate degree and graduate from law school. Attending a school that was small and welcoming was the best decision for Carranza who was able to build relationships with UAFS professors and administrators.

“People who were very approachable and people who were willing to help me, introduce me to new ideas, new opportunities,” he said.

UAFS also fostered his love of running. Besides providing an opportunity to attend college and a way to exercise, Carranza views the sport as a way to stay connected with his community.

“I think that people who are involved in running are such great people to be around…a lot of races are to help the community, help people around you so I really like that aspect of it,” he said.