Cristian Moreno was born in Atlantic City to immigrant parents from Oaxaca, Mexico. His roots are tied to the city, where he grew up regularly seeing immigrant struggles in the community.
“My parents came to America when they were my age. All around me, there was fear and a lack of access to resources from being undocumented,” he said.
These life experiences sparked Moreno’s interest in immigration law, immigrant policy and Chicano studies, the study of Mexican-American culture and identity, as well as Latino/a and indigenous populations in the Americas.
Moreno, a double major studying Political Science and Historical Studies, serves as Stockton University’s student alternate trustee; president of the College Democrats student organization; and president of Stockton’s new mock trial team. Though only in his third year at Stockton University, his credits reflect senior-year status.
“I first want to run for mayor of Atlantic City and help further revitalize the city, and eventually climb the ranks as a state senator before running for the U.S. Senate. So, I thought it was important to choose Stockton because of its proximity and engagement with the Atlantic City community,” Moreno said. “My older brother, Irvin, came to Stockton, too – he graduated in Spring 2015.”
In the Fall 2015 semester, Moreno was elected the student alternate trustee for the Stockton University Board of Trustees. In this role, he serves as a non-voting alternate member of the board during the 2015-2016 academic year, and will become a voting member of the board in the 2016-2017 academic year.
Moreno first began taking pre-law courses with Linda J. Wharton, professor of Political Science, during his freshman year.
“Professor Wharton is my idol. Not many can compare,” he said.
As a sophomore, he was accepted into Wharton’s selective Advanced Constitutional Litigation course. Moreno served as the solicitor general in the course’s mock United States Supreme Court trial.
“That experience inspired me to start a new mock trial team on campus,” said Moreno, who serves as the organization’s president. “Stockton is now one of 288 college and university mock trial teams in the nation. Our first competition is scheduled for February 2016.”
He is also a member of Stockton’s Political Engagement Project, a campus-wide organization which aims to foster life-long engaged citizenship, and a mentor for the Champions of Youth program at the Boys and Girls Club in Atlantic City.
Moreno has interned for State Sen. Jim Whelan (D-2); the Senate Majority Office at the New Jersey State House Capital; and State Senate President Stephen Sweeney’s District Office (D-3).
This spring, Moreno will intern for Kaleem Shabazz, 3rd Ward Atlantic City councilman. He also plans to intern at the American Civil Liberties Union in the summer of 2016. He hopes to intern the following year at the New Jersey Office of the Attorney General in order to gain experience arguing on behalf of disenfranchised groups.
Moreno credits Michael Rodriguez, associate professor of Political Science at Stockton, as an inspiration in his future studies of the immigration aspect of public policy. Rodriguez, who teaches courses in public policy, also has Chicano art in his office, explained Moreno.
“My end goal is to be a political figure that is able to represent the immigrant community and translate their voices into comprehensive legislative reform,” said Moreno, who hopes to graduate in 2017. “I have a lot of pride in Atlantic City and it has definitely shaped who I’ve become. It has allowed me to truly understand the struggles people face on a daily basis. You learn to appreciate people, because of all they have experienced. I’m fortunate to have so many resources available at Stockton.
“I’m very grateful for my professors, whose own experiences and research support my political motivation,” he continued. “It is because of them I will be able to achieve my goal to defend human and civil rights as an attorney. It will take a certain level of sacrifice to accomplish that, but it is my personal goal to always educate myself.”