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Alumni Spotlight: Magnet Schools Culinary graduate pursues law in London

8 March 2024 · Joseph Bakes

Alumni Spotlight: Paola Guzman-Morgan


MIDDLESEX COUNTY, NJ – As Paola Guzman-Morgan studied culinary arts at Perth Amboy Magnet School, she was learning things that will come in handy in a future legal career, she says.

A 2012 graduate of what was then Perth Amboy Tech, just a few blocks from her home, she now is in London pursuing a law degree and an ambition to work in family law.

“Being in culinary taught me so much. It taught me about being on time, respecting other people, getting along with other people, being professional,” she said. “The teachers were really good, the career programs were really good.”

She had special praise for history teacher Frank Paprota, who encouraged her to pursue law and “is still a mentor to me,” and culinary teacher Stephen Moir, who she said has “a very strong personality,” and teaches with “tough love.”

“It rubbed off on me when I was there,” she said. “All of my teachers were really instrumental in shaping us.”

After high school, she attended Bloomfield College as a psychology major and entered a study abroad program in London.

“I really fell in love with London,” Guzman-Morgan said, adding that she applied to a university there and decided to make it her home. 

She studied law at Kingston University in London and is pursuing a master’s degree at Leeds Beckett University in northern England, hoping to qualify as a solicitor working in family law.

“I always wanted to do law. I like to argue and to be able to prove a point,” she said. “Using the law to argue a point is kind of a thrill. I like reading cases and finding things that happened in the 1800s that still influence the law today.”

Although she says she is an emotional person and finds working with at-risk women and children difficult, she has some experience working with them, and that is the area she plans to pursue.

“I found that fulfilling,” she said. “It’s something I’m really passionate about.”

She comes from Dominican roots and Spanish was her first language. She has found being bilingual useful in England, and now has added a little Portuguese.

Moir remembers Guzman-Morgan well, having taught her in Culinary Arts and coached her in soccer and softball.

“She was one of the most ambitious and curious students that I have had over the 20 years I’ve been teaching,” he said. “She has a one-of-a-kind personality that makes everyone around her better.”

“I cannot say enough about how she impacted our school and myself over the years.”

Guzman-Morgan has kept in touch with both Moir and Paprota, and hosted Moir’s daughter on a trip to London, having known her since she was a little girl attending soccer practices.

Married to a Londoner, she has applied for permanent residency and hopes to achieve dual citizenship down the road. She hasn’t been back to the United States in five years, but said she is planning a trip home.