$10k Scholarship Finalist

Coming from a family heavily affected by chronic illness, I know fear. It sounds like my parents’ worried voices as they discuss the skyrocketing price of my diabetic father’s insulin due to illegal pharmaceutical collusion. I know indignation. It looks like my mother being effectively shut out of establishments that lack legally mandated accommodations due to her Multiple Sclerosis and me having to work nights in order to care for my ill brother during the day. I also know hope. For people like me, hope is what the study of law represents. The medical malpractice and discrimination my family has dealt with has made it clear to me that a single individual with a passion for justice is all that stands between the vulnerable and losing everything, and that I can use my experience with adversity to protect the ill and disabled. I intend to work at the intersection of health and tribal law because the law is ground zero in the fight for health equity. I plan to make it my mission to use the law to thwart policies enabling discrimination and perpetuating systemic abuses against my fellow Native Americans, which I plan to do by working with communities, tribes, and Native health care organizations.

Indigenous people currently face among the highest rates of illness in the country and the lowest incidence of medical treatment, due largely to preventable abuses by doctors and providers as well as shortfalls of legally mandated federal and state funding. As a lawyer, I hope to help decolonize health care systems by combatting medical illiteracy regarding Native American health. By bringing an Indigenous worldview, which emphasizes the value of groups often overlooked in Eurocentric discourse, such as children, the elderly, and the disabled, I also plan to make the law better protect those who live under it by calling attention to diverse and underrepresented perspectives. Furthermore, I plan to become a lawyer to provide a positive example for Native youth and to create momentum for even further change. I believe it is important that a tribal member lead such an effort because of the frequent underrepresentation of Natives in the public sphere. By proving that the law that has long kept Natives down can be used to empower them, I hope to end the sentiment of disengagement and hopelessness that precludes them from being heard.

To me, the One Lawyer Can Change the World Scholarship is not just a scholarship; its founding creed represents the very reason I want to be a lawyer. I view this scholarship as a kind of loan on my part: by
providing me with the funds to attend law school, BARBRI will allow me to repay the favor manifold to those whose voices are ignored most. By investing in my future career, this Scholarship will give me the tools to create a world in which health equity is a given, the ill and disabled are granted the dignity they deserve, and nobody is left behind.

My career goals have been very much informed by my own experience with health inequity and the selfless commitment of lawyers in protecting those rendered vulnerable by illness and disability. I feel it is my duty to use my gifts to help those who are overlooked, even if it means going up against powerful forces. I have seen time and again that, with right on one’s side, anything is possible. This is why I feel obligated and excited to launch a career advocating for the rights of the ill and disabled.

Having longed to attend Notre Dame since childhood, I am well aware of its core mission of creating a “Different Kind of Lawyer.” I plan to go to law school precisely for this reason: to be a lawyer that exemplifies the dedication, awareness, and tirelessness needed to rectify the abuses of the law that occur all too often. I know that Notre Dame Law School will give me the skills to make a true impact in the lives of people who need a miracle most.

I would like to sincerely thank my family, all of whom have made me into everything I am today. Without their guidance, support, and unconditional love, I would not have developed the capacity to dream of a better world that inspires me to enter the legal profession.

This scholarship would be truly life-changing for me. Not only would it give me the means to achieve my dream of being a lawyer, it would also, more importantly, serve as living proof that the lawyer’s central mission to work to correct abuses and injustices wherever they are found is very much alive and well, still inspiring people to take on the lofty task of challenging the powers that be and facing great odds to improve the lives of their fellow human beings.

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