$10k Scholarship Finalist

They never tell you how much war can take from you.

The South Sudan civil war had taken so much from me: family, friends, and a home. Faces of close family members became a blur, names of places I had played and ran around became unfamiliar, and words in my native tongue fell away until I couldn’t understand what my relatives had to say. Despite that, one memory lingered in my head. The memory begins the same way; I walk down a muddy road to catch the battered bus that rumbled to the other side of town.
It was unusual for me to ditch school, but something pushed me to that morning, so I walked until I came down a long corridor with a young girl leaning against the wall, her arms flanked on either side and her head tilted to look to the side. When I stopped in front of her, I realized she was not asleep. She was dead. Her body slumped over, half sitting up on the steps. A voice off in the distance snapped me back to reality, and with my heart racing and ears ringing, I ran. Later I would learn from my mother the rebels gun down government workers and their families, and the young girl got caught in the crossfire of a senseless conflict. The young girl’s face would be one of the first, but not last, haunting looks of death I would remember.

My family fled Sudan in 2005, and the U.N sent us to the United States. I often thought about that young girl and how living in the United States has saved me in many ways, but I reflect on the many lives sacrificed and how easily that could’ve been our fate. During my junior year, I chanced upon a law school seminar, and I signed up to learn more. I didn’t realize how eye-opening the experience would turn out for me. All the opportunities presented were about advocating and helping those in need. There I decided to pursue law to make a change. Change for my relatives still struggling back home. Change for the millions of refugees displaced every day due to ongoing conflicts. I hope to work for an immigration firm upon graduation or the International Rescue Committee legal team.

I believe that $10,000 would change my world. My family struggles with providing for most of their relatives back in Sudan because they hardly receive any of their paychecks from the government. I want to stand tall and pay my way through law school so that my dreams to give back to children and families in war-torn countries can become a closer reality.

Becoming a lawyer places you in a unique position to help individuals, groups, and organizations with their legal problems and to champion legal causes for the greater good of society. Growing up in war torn Sudan , I faced a life of uncertainty and fear, but what I remembered most were the people that lended a helping hand to my family. I hope in the pursuit of my legal career, hopefully as an immigration lawyer, that I become someone that fights for underserved communities. I resolve to focus my career on helping others but for now I’ll be focused on getting through law school to the best of my abilities.

I chose to study at University of San Diego School of Law because it provides a great education in one of the busiest cities in California, thus providing a great amount of opportunities. I wanted a law school that had faculty dedicated to their student success and a supportive environment. It was my conversation with previous USD Law students that confirmed my belief that USD School of Law would be perfect for me. I loved what they had to say about the quality of lectures, the interaction with both teachers and students, as well as the leadership of the place.

I would like to thank my parents, who taught me the true value of an education. Thank you for always putting my siblings and I first, for leaving your home country in search of a better life. Without knowing the language, the culture, and the people, you left it all behind to build a future here.

I just want to express my sincerest gratitude for being awarded this opportunity and to express what winning this scholarship means to me. By being awarded this scholarship, I would feel empowered. It would enable students, such as myself, who come from disadvantaged backgrounds to be change-makers through scholarly pursuit. This scholarship award would not only alleviate my financial burden but allow me to focus on the most important aspect of school, learning.

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