BARBRI Law Preview and the ABA are proud to announce the top 10 finalists of the One Lawyer Can Change the World Scholarship. The first and second place winners will be selected by the Chair of the ABA’s Young Lawyers Division. Notification will take place on or before June 10.
Although some may deem it impossible to change the world, I believe that even the slightest contribution has the capacity to make a huge difference. This belief in particular has molded me into the woman that I am today. I am a product of everything that our society views negatively—a product of poverty, of welfare, and of food stamps. I grew up in what most people would call “the ghetto,” as a majority of the people in my neighborhood were expected to end up either knocked up, in jail, or even deceased. Aside from the environment that bred me, and despite any issues that I may have encountered on my path, I am still beyond grateful for the way that I was raised, because without my upbringing, I would not have a clear picture of the very thing I am fighting for. I plan to change the world by showing children with similar backgrounds as my own that there is always an alternate path. Although I am aware of the atrocious discrepancies in the number of African Americans who are incarcerated, I plan to show the world that we can obtain justice without using bias and sometimes even bigotry. We do not have to automatically condemn criminals based on the color of their skin or the way in which they were raised. I will use my law degree to bring justice to those who deserve it, and to be a voice of reason when people are being sentenced unfairly.
I grew up in a town of about 500 people in northern Michigan. Being raised by a single mom in a low-income household fueled my interest in a public service career. In 2016, I graduated from Yale University with a degree in international relations focusing on women’s health in developing countries. After spending a year as a Fulbright Scholar in Bosnia-Herzegovina, I will return this fall to Columbia Law School to study human rights law with a focus on women’s issues, inspired by my mom.
The law is the most powerful tool we have to bring justice to those who are oppressed. In my legal career, I hope to first provide direct legal representation to victims of gender-based violence, particularly in conflict settings. Later, through impact litigation and eventual policy work, I hope to create lasting changes that will enable women and girls to access better legal protection from abuse and neglect.
I chose to attend Columbia because New York City is home to many organizations that I would love to pursue a career with, such as Human Rights Watch. As Columbia does not allow 1Ls to work campus jobs, this scholarship would have an enormous impact on reducing my 1L debt in a city with such a high cost of living, and would consequently give me more freedom to pursue unpaid or low-paid public service work later on.
John Quincy Adams once stated, “If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.” As a future attorney, this is my ultimate goal. Our ever-changing world is nothing without strong-willed, kind, and diligent leaders. With a law degree, I intend to zealously advocate for my clients, exude integrity, and always exemplify kindness. Not only that, but I will continuously acknowledge and respect the differences of those that I encounter. It is very easy to go throughout life and simply worry about myself. However, the only way the world can improve is if I take the extra mile to uplift my peers.
The Framers of our Constitution vividly wrote about what they felt it would take to “form a more perfect union,” and out of all the language written within it, two words will serve as a guide throughout my work in the legal profession. In order to change our world, I will always strive to focus on establishing justice. Whether it is representing a client in a courtroom, or developing a program to provide the homeless with everyday essentials; I will strive to establish justice in every area of my life.
For most of my life, I have watched my family struggle to provide the best life possible for me. By winning this scholarship, a major financial burden will be lifted off of my shoulders. I will be more equipped to focus on my studies, rather than focusing on costs.
Mandela freed the people. Obama brought them together. O’Connor sat on the bench for them when she was expected to sit on the sidelines. Sotomayor showed us that anyone from anywhere can do anything.
Long before they were Presidents or Justices, they were first-year law students with dreams of unity, equality, and freedom. Rising from humble roots, they overcame all odds to begin their legal educations, and the world has never since been the same.
Every lawyer has a unique story of the motivations and circumstances that called them to the law. As a young girl growing up in rural northeastern Minnesota in an economically depressed and medically underserved area, I looked up to those in my community and beyond who fought tirelessly to help others improve their quality of life. The values of service and justice were instilled within me. With recognition of the law as a vocation into which professionals enter for the fundamental purpose of advocating, I decided to pursue a legal education not for myself but on behalf of others. As a hopeful 1L, I dream of a world in which no person’s ability to achieve his or her potential is limited by a lack of access to quality, affordable health care.
Because of Presidents Obama and Mandela and Justices O’Connor and Sotomayor and every other predecessor, I enjoy the luxury of believing that perhaps I, too, can change the world through the law. This scholarship means that dream stays alive and the vision in sight.
It is my conviction that the preservation and protection of the environment provides the most to gain from its success and the most to lose from its failure. Currently though, the majority of environmental protection is projected towards failure, with devastating and irreversible consequences for the planet and its inhabitants. With a law degree focused on environmental law, I will strive to change the story of human environmental impact to one of progress, protection, and responsibility. The law must change to protect entities such as clean water instead of mining industries, national parks and renewable energy instead of big oil, and people instead of companies. I hope to get us there. Additionally, as a person of LGBTQ+ identity, I hope to break down discrimination against my community by positive example throughout my legal career.
My drive to become an environmental lawyer is rooted in a passion that has resonated throughout my academic and extracurricular achievements. Experience has shown me that environmental progress can only occur if passionate people are able to enter fields, such as law, that are able to change the realities of our world. With lowered 1L tuition costs from the $10,000 scholarship, I could focus more on my educational goals instead of constantly working jobs. In addition to this initial benefit, with less debt upon graduation, I would better be able to pursue career opportunities based on level of tangible environmental impact as opposed to level of salary, which would truly change my, and even other’s, world.
I grew up on the extreme Eastside of Indianapolis, in an area not exactly known for its designer shopping malls or five-star restaurants. I attended Warren Central High School, one of the most culturally diverse schools in the Midwest, and carried into high school and college the ideology that all men and women are equal no matter what race or religion they come from. When I graduated from high school and entered into college in a predominately white, small-town, I soon learned that not all people have been raised with the same set of precepts, and because of this understanding, I finally realized what I want to do to change our world and how I can accomplish it. I want to use the skills learned in law school to affect positive change in a nation that seems to be currently divided on many fronts. I see law school as the optimal way for me to directly have an impact on the issues that have caused some of these divisions.
To be completely honest, the 1L $10,000 scholarship wouldn’t just impact my world. It could possibly impact millions of people living in the United States and beyond. I am sure there are better-qualified applicants to receive this award, but not every applicant has the desire to use their degree to impact a nation.
I struggle with the fear of being too poor for law school, but I want to be a lawyer. After having to drop-out once, I enrolled in the paralegal studies program at Atlanta Technical College. Although I was accomplishing many titles, there was still a void. It was filled on March 8, 2014. I was one of thirty students nominated to be the student of the year. I was the only finalist to be interviewed by Ernie Suggs (writer for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution). “How did you stay out of trouble,” asked Mr. Suggs, “what motivates you to continue to strive for your goal despite everything you have experienced?” My entire life flashed before my eyes. I recalled being abused as a child, people selling drugs while I was with my mother, three home evictions in three years, and not knowing my father until I was twenty-two years old. I did not want to be a victim of mass incarceration like others in my family. I replied, “I didn’t want to be a statistic!” I will use my law degree create solutions to help youth that experience child abuse and save families by creating alternatives to derail mass incarcerations. I was the runner-up for student of the year, but I discovered my purpose in life and felt like a winner. $10,000 toward my 1L tuition fulfill my purpose, and grant me freedom to use my story to tell the youth in the world to work hard and never quit.
In my hometown, countless families are haunted by the terrifying thought of separation. Border towns such as Laredo are often associated with words like “immigration” and “border security,” and it is no wonder why. When over 90% of the population has roots in Mexico, it is easy to understand how such issues are at the heart of most discussions regarding the region. Growing up, I witnessed the horrors of families being torn apart due to deportation. I have known too many stories of law-abiding, community-loving, good-hearted people waiting years for their residency to pass through only to be denied citizenship at the door. This is the reality for thousands of immigrants across the United States who arrive from all over the world. Throughout my short adult life, I have understood the ever increasing need for immigration attorneys to address such issues. This, however, is just the tip of the problem at hand. I am going to Texas A&M School of Law to address the core of this issue: the law itself. It is not enough to create more immigration attorneys because the law in place today is constantly working against them and their clients. The existing system is burdened with an overwhelming influx of applications, tied together with a taxing application process and outrageous waiting periods. It is my dream to one day become one of the select few who can actually change the law for the betterment of the system itself and the people who hope to bring prosperity to this great nation. Every person in this country is affected in some way by immigration. The topic is at the forefront of political discourse and a hot button issue in our society. The money that you have so graciously put before me would greatly benefit me in my quest to create meaningful immigration legislation, and in doing so, change the world. Granting me this generous scholarship will substantially ease my financial burden by contributing to the expenses that law school accumulates through text books, housing, and overall living expenditures. It would also contribute to the education of a dedicated, disciplined, and driven individual who has every intention of fulfilling this dream. Thank you for taking the time to review my plea, and I anxiously await your response.
A good law can the change the world. On July 26, 1990, President Bush signed the Americans with Disabilities Act. At the time, I was only eight years old, and not disabled. Seven years later, however, I fell off of a highway overpass and became paralyzed. The following years were a difficult journey for me, but many potential obstacles were reduced or removed due to the ADA and subsequent legislation. I received free accessible transport to school and to my rehabilitation center, which allowed my single mother to resume her work. As I relearned how to navigate the world, I found assistance along the way in curb cuts and automatic door openers. I attended a public university, where in the Department of Disability Services I found advocates making sure my housing and my classrooms were accessible. The ADA changed my world and allowed me to succeed.
There are still many people who, like those with disabilities before the ADA was signed, need good laws to help them become equal participants in our society and community. I am pursuing law school because I want to help make good laws to change the world for others, as the ADA did for me.
I’m applying for this scholarship because my wife and I want to start a family through international adoption. $10,000 toward my 1L tuition would allow us to use our savings for adoption costs, changing not only my world but also the world of a child who needs a family.
Throughout the course of my life, I have come to believe that everyone has a personal calling based on their characteristics, experiences and defining moments. These distinguishing qualities help shape a person into who they will become and are as unique as a fingerprint. I have always wanted to pursue a rewarding career, one that will aid in the protection of the powerless, address equality in the justice system and give back to the community. In eighth grade, I came to the realization that in order for me to achieve this I would need to pursue a career in law.
With my law degree, I will be the people’s defender. I will fight for their rights and devotedly provide equal access to justice. And it doesn’t stop there. It is within my passion to improve the quality of life, especially among the underserved. I will continue to pledge my service to the community–making it a better place to live and work. My commitment to community service resonates with my very humble beginnings. For me, it is very personal. While I pursue my career in law, I will implement and execute community outreach initiatives through partnership that will be beneficial to all.
This scholarship opportunity will change my world because it will afford me the opportunity to obtain an exceptional legal education. Furthermore, it will enable me to protect the underserved while being of service to society, and giving back to my community. Thank you for your consideration.