Our 2021 Finney Injury Law Scholarship Winners

Kiera Doughty

Kiera Doughty’s Winning Essay

Finding My Passion

If you asked me what I wanted to do with my life two years ago, I would have told you that I had no idea. It seemed as if I had explored every option, but nothing ever felt quite right. I took just about every exploratory class that they offered at my high school: medical occupations, computer concepts, business and economics, foods and nutrition, etc. These classes interested me at first, but that interest was fleeting and only lasted for the span of a semester.

During my senior year, I decided to enroll in the cooperative education program through school. This program would match me with an employer and allow me to learn basic job skills both in the classroom and on the job. There was no guarantee that this would help me find my passion, but I figured it would be worth a try. To this day, I am so glad that I did. The co-op process began long before my senior year. As a junior, I had to go in for an interview with the teacher who taught the class. She asked me what I wanted to get out of this class and I told her that my hope was to figure out what I should do for my future career.

After taking a personality and job skills quiz online, we made the joint decision that an office setting would be a good fit for me. At that point I didn’t have any input as to where I wanted to be placed. She gave me a few different options, one of those being a secretarial position at a law firm. This idea sounded intimidating at first. After all, it was still up to me to actually get hired. I wondered what kind of law firm would want to hire a 17-year-old. Nonetheless, my information was sent over to Wendler Law, P.C. and I scheduled an interview with them later that afternoon.

The interview was terrifying. I sat in a boardroom surrounded by the two attorneys and three of their employees. It was a small office. They all had a perfect view of my slightly nervous expression and my overly hairsprayed hair. I hoped they couldn’t tell how badly I was shaking. At the end of the interview, they asked me to step outside. When they allowed me to come back in, they informed me that I got the job.

I will never forget the way that I felt on my way home. I called everyone I could think of to tell them the great news. They told me that I could start in just a few short weeks, which ended up being way before my senior year even began. Of course I was extremely nervous, but my excitement was almost enough to overcome that feeling completely. I had previously worked in childcare throughout my high school career, but I was ready to move on from that and onto bigger and better things.

When I first began working at Wendler Law, the thought of becoming an attorney barely crossed my mind. It was simply not a career path I had ever considered for myself before. Public speaking has always made me anxious and I never considered myself to be the argumentative type. However, I learned through my time there that being an attorney is a lot more than just arguing with people in a courtroom.

Every day I witnessed many interactions between the attorneys and their clients. With each interaction, it was obvious how much they genuinely cared for their clients. When people would come in and express their frustration or sadness, the attorneys would mirror their emotions and empathize with them. They always made sure that their clients felt heard. They would then use that emotional response to fuel their future arguments for the case. It was very interesting to see how some clients can become friends for life.

Another thing that I learned while having this type of job is how especially difficult it can be for women who work in the legal field. While women now typically outnumber men in law schools, that was not always the case. When studying the history of our country, it is obvious that women have had to work much harder than men to gain respect in the workforce. This is extremely evident in the legal field considering the first woman to become an attorney, Arabella Mansfield, was admitted to the Iowa bar in 1869.

Things have improved drastically since then, but there are still many obstacles that female attorneys face every single day. According to a journal published by the American Bar Association, many female attorneys are quitting their jobs at their firms due to unfair compensation systems and issues with gender bias. This is especially evident for women of color who make up less than 4% of all attorneys in the United States.

Many female attorneys state that they feel they are considered less valuable to their firms than their male colleagues. When they try to add their input during a group conversation, they are described as pushy or aggressive and their ideas are dismissed. When they stay silent, they are treated as if they are useless. This is obviously very frustrating for most women, especially when they have worked just as hard as any man to obtain their positions in the first place.

I believe that in order to solve these problems for women in the legal field, we must encourage and inspire young women to become part of the legal field and continue the current enrollment trends. It is important that more women, primarily women of color, are given a voice to speak out against these issues and that they are backed with the support necessary to make a difference. Allowing a chance for these voices to unite will ultimately amplify the message that these women have been trying to get across for decades.

Someone that inspired me would be Angie Zinzilieta, one of the attorneys that I worked for at Wendler Law. Since I have started working there, the firm name has been changed to Wendler & Zinzilieta, P.C., after Angie became a partner. Angie is a great attorney, teacher, and friend, who quickly became one of my biggest role models. She is very kind and considerate of others but also knows how to get the job done when there are obstacles in her way.

Angie helped me learn how to be more assertive in the most professional way possible. This has always been something that I struggled with. She taught me to stand up for myself even when the other person is of higher authority. Observing the way that she handles her cases has been extremely empowering and knowing that she put herself through law school on her own led me to believe that I could too. Now I am absolutely determined to prove myself right.

Looking back, I am eternally thankful for the opportunity to have worked at this firm. I never would have found my passion without the wonderful people that I worked with there. They have welcomed me back each summer since I started there and even allowed me to work for them during my short winter break of my freshman year of college. Since then, my desire for this profession has only grown stronger. I learn something new every day which both keeps me busy and stimulates me mentally.

I have always found the act of helping others to be very fulfilling so everything about this profession feels right for me. I know that I have some things to overcome such as my discomfort with public speaking, but I have already started working on that by enrolling in communications classes at my university. I also plan to join the new Mock Trial Club that they will offer this year. I am aware that the journey will not be easy, and despite multiple discouraging comments regarding the job market by teachers and guidance counselors, I am ready to do whatever it takes.

Receiving this scholarship would be a huge step in the right direction considering law school can become very expensive and many people incur large amounts of debt in the process of completing their degrees. I am very appreciative that the associates of Finney Injury Law have taken the time to read this essay, and I hope that you will consider me for this scholarship. Thank you for your time.

Nandi Person

scholarship winner nandi person and chris finney

Nandi Person’s Winning Essay

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Alleigh Fine

Alleigh’s Winning Essay

As a society, we have failed. We consistently miscalculate the complexities of humankind by placing both individuals and entire communities into boxes based on singular characteristics. With stigma and stereotypes as blinders, we stumble into the trap of defining complex beings by only one aspect of their existence. We are so much more than the parts to our whole.

It is my objective to diversify the legal field while creating mental health care resources that are both inclusive and accessible for minority communities. To me, diversity is recognizing and respecting that everyone is different. While this awareness is essential, it is also remarkable. The impression that no two people will have the same life narrative is what makes the human experience exceptional. It allows us to understand the society we live in from a viewpoint other than our own. Diversity is the vehicle for original thoughts and new perspectives. Inclusivity is opening a seat at the table for these new ideas to be freely shared. Inclusion cannot exist without diversity, and without inclusion, we cannot foster a collective growth-mindset and acceptance. That is what makes this paradigm essential for improving all the spaces and places we enter. I am dedicated to the fight for social justice and the efforts being made to bridge the health care gaps created by social inequalities, especially those that negatively impact the mental health community. This is the purpose that I am carrying with me into my legal education and professional career.

The world I come from is unique to me in many ways. While my sex and gender may pose inherent challenges in the professional world as an aspiring attorney, being a cisgender female is not the highlight of my personal narrative. I walk through this world as a chronically ill and queer individual, and an aunt four beautiful children of color. I would not want this any other way! Amidst the pandemic, I was diagnosed with Lupus. Experiencing life with an autoimmune disease has opened my eyes to the complexities and shortcomings of the public health care system. As a queer individual, I have not always felt like I have belonged in every room. This has inspired me to make all the spaces that I create inclusive, welcoming, and safe. As an aunt, I have learned that the people I care deeply about will face unnecessary adversity because of the color of their skin. Watching them grow up in today’s society motivates me to generate meaningful change. These three facets to my life make up different aspects of my narrative. They are not, however, able to depict my complete lived experience on their own. It is not until they are viewed together, concurrently with this final aspect, that you are able to see the illustration of my intersectional story.

I happen to be amongst the one in four that live with a mental illness. In my junior year of college, I relapsed with my eating disorder. I was a full-time student and now a full-time patient at a local treatment center. I spent much of my time in treatment pondering my relapse, but not all of it. I reflected on what it meant to have this privilege of treatment. Most of the other patients looked like me. I asked myself, why wasn’t there more diversity in my treatment center? Was this center too expensive? Could there be other options that are more affordable or more easily accessible? I quickly came to the disheartening conclusion that professional mental health care is seen as a luxury rather than a necessity.

Statistics attempt to accurately project the demographic breakdown of who is most likely to be affected by which disorder over time. I tend to question this process of data collection and interpretation. The numbers that manage to get reported tend to be those who have been afforded the privilege of seeking professional mental health care to receive a diagnosis. Moreover, these professionals are only humans within a dynamic system. I cannot help but to pose the question of, are individuals being diagnosed without bias? The short answer to that would be no; eating disorders, like all other mental illnesses do not discriminate based on race, class, sexuality, or gender, but the system of mental health care does.

These lived experiences fueled my passion for mental health care law and legislation. I nurtured this passion by completing two internships with the local court system. The first of which was a student-intern position with the Kenosha County Courthouse, interning for a circuit court Judge. From this experience I gained valuable insight about the local legal system and how it served, or in some cases under-served, it’s constituents. I recognized just how human our justice system is. No two branches of court interpret case facts or formed opinions in the exact same way. Over the course of this semester, I noticed that sentences would tend to take the form of punishment or rehabilitation. This compelled me inquire further about this component of rehabilitation in the justice system and lead me to my second internship.

During the summer of 2019, I worked closely with Corporation Counsel on cases that were heavy in the topics of mental health. I was thrilled to dive into the waters of this mental health and legal crossroad. I studied the rules and procedures concerning the various psychiatric institutions for adults and minors, substance abuse, and involuntary and voluntary commitments. Knowing that statutes of this nature existed initially made me hopeful. In the end, it was disappointing to see how these statues functioned in practice. I could see attorneys and advocates reaching out a hand to help this vulnerable population. Nonetheless, these resources were simultaneously being pulled in the opposite direction by the negative effects of a system built on stigma and stereotypes.

That following fall I authored a thesis that analyzed the social and legal intersections of mental illness. It became apparent that prisons have become de facto psychiatric facilities and the individuals held there are continuing to fall through the cracks of the system without proper mental health care. The current systems of health and justice in America disable those with mental health conditions from receiving affordable and accessible care that is inclusive to a wide range of communities. Thereafter, I decided to devote my career to breaking down these social and systemic barriers with academic research, legal and social advocacy, and policymaking.

I have found the following assertions to be true. First, everybody may not have a diagnosed mental illness, but every person has mental health. Second, mere access does not guarantee that essential legal and health care resources are inclusive. Minority communities are continuously left with an inadequacy of quality mental health resources and an abundance of stigma-driven disparities. I am committed to fighting for social justice and the efforts being made to bridge the health care gaps created by systemic inequities. It is vital to create mental health resources that are both inclusive and accessible for diverse communities. This is an action that I aim to bring into my legal education and professional career.

Considering how dynamic individual human beings are, it comes without surprise that mental health is an incredibly intersectional issue. It is no secret that gender, sexual, racial, and ethnic minorities, and those in lower socioeconomic groups, are disproportionately suffering from higher rates of poor mental health outcomes. Within these groups, those with mental illnesses are more likely to circulate between the psychiatric and criminal justice institutions. Scholars and policymakers have identified this as a cycle of transinstitutionalization. However, they have failed to pinpoint and eradicate why this continues. I strongly consider this vicious cycle to be fueled by the absence of an appropriate understanding for (1) mental health, and (2) the tolls that this experience takes on diverse communities. Diversity and inclusion are necessary for change, but they alone are not sufficient in bridging the mental health care gap.

The current health care discrepancies for those with mental health conditions are egregiously unacceptable. It is critical for this type of health to be more highly prioritized amongst professionals across the fields of law and healthcare. We must hold those who are crafting regulations and litigating for such a vulnerable population to a higher standard. We need someone that can work collaboratively between these two fields. This individual must be willing to formulate progressive policy that translates to improved mental health initiatives within the justice system. I am confident that this person is me.

This scholarship would allow me to start my journey as a first-generation student at the nation’s leading Health Law program, St. Louis University. At SLU, I will conduct extensive academic research focused on the intersections of mental health and the law. Upon graduation, I aspire to create meaningful and lasting change. I will bridge this health care gap, rid surrounding dialogue from stigma, and establish opportunities of inclusive resources. I will break this cycle and remodel the atmosphere surrounding mental health care policy.

Travione Johnson

Travione’s Winning Essay

I was born to a mother who was only 15 years old. Because of this, society tells me that my life will encompass the most extreme hardships one could ever imagine. One article, “Why Children of Teen Mothers Do Worse in Life”, written by Anna Aizer, Paul Devereux, and Kjell G. Salvanes, spells out the prediction of my life’s story. In part, the article states that my cognitive test scores will be lower than average and that I will fall short of completing high school by half a year. It further goes on to assert that since my environment is “full of neglect and poverty,” I will be 13% more likely to end up incarcerated at some point during my life. If I manage to “evade” incarceration, then I will end up earning 4% lower wages than the average worker . . . solely because I am a product of teenage pregnancy. I cannot deny that my reality was initially faced with the possibility of growing up in poverty. My mother ended up having another child at age 18. Even though I have no recollection of it, as a toddler I lived in a homeless shelter with my mother and younger brother while my mother completed her senior year of high school.

Nevertheless, my mother graduated from high school on time and went on to attend college. My first established home was in student-family housing on a college campus. I remember my mother working while she attended college full-time, in order to care for me and my brother. Growing up and watching how my mother understood that education would be the key foundation of avoiding a cycle of poverty soon became the same understanding that was instilled in me. I didn’t have many of the same luxuries as a youth as other children but from daycare to kindergarten and throughout elementary, middle, and high school, my mother made it a point to enroll us in top accredited schools which I can say was a huge blessing in itself. I was admitted and graduated from what is considered one of St. Louis’s top private high school.

Needless to say, I didn’t fit the profile of the typical student at my school, but I’d established several friendships and enjoyed many experiences that have helped me identify my passion in the legal field. I understand with my story and where I am now that I can inspire others who society disregards- whether it is because of the color of their skin, low economic status, or any other uncontrollable factor they are born into. I’m grateful for the many opportunities that my school has created to build dialogue on social justice and equality on issues going on in our own city and all over the world. These discussions helped me visualize adversities in my own life and begin to reflect on what could be done to help people in poverty. And in these conversations on these conflicts I came to the revelation about how justice in America was dictated by law. Law is supposed to ensure that Americans have a shared equity in a sense. For example, Every American under law are required to follow the same traffic rules and regulation for their own protection but this also creates a system where each america has their fair share of opportunity in this case when one light is green and the other is red those with the green light will receive the right to continue their commute until the light turns red in which the next group of cars are allowed to go. Equality and equity were never really ideas that held too much interest for me in most cases as I felt that there wasn’t really much there to debate for humans. It was when conversations surrounding justice really became important for me over those years as it reached for deeper in society. Because the word justice to me was discussing what was necessary for true equality and equity to exist. Whenever conversations on justice occurred, I enjoyed hearing the room give a different definition of justice. For myself and taking a step back, I first understood justice as subjection, and how biased it could be as for every person who’d felt like they’d received it there were those who felt its absence in theirs. In a sentence I thought of it as “the ideal offering of treatment a person should receive considering the circumstances of their life”. The questions that began fueling my pursuit into the legal field is when I could start to see how justice could be manipulated to provide some people with more benefits by restricting or stripping opportunities from others by placing them in an environment that is difficult to escape from all while not providing them the tools to uproot themselves. And the number one cause of this was greed. I could see how justice didn’t exist in America because of how we operate like a company to stay ahead of the rest of the world. And spending effort and time on those who were at the bottom became far from our top priority. I now see how business is present in almost everyone’s daily endeavors. I saw how business played a role in politics to every single human being as one of the most fundamental lessons that I learned is that “time is money”.

Upon this realization I knew that it was important that I learn the language of the corporate and business world and how to properly navigate the two. I saw how the economy was the biggest focus of the government and all that mattered was how much you could add to it and for those who couldn’t like the poor no matter your race, age, gender, or sexuality you would fall in the same boat of status and be given few chances by others. I saw this in how academically talented my mother was yet she still lived in conditions as if she had no education or decent job but this was all due to raising two children. The money that she’d begin to make would instantly go into our mouths and maintain a roof over our heads. But I could see that she was a person capable of being very successful. This would later cause me to locate how all over the world people who’ve stemmed from similar beginnings of my own have experienced an injustice that needs to be fixed but there is simply just an unwillingness from those more fortunate to use the gifts and blessings they were given back to those who require it the most. Today, I understand how fortunate my life has turned out compared to where it started. But along the way I’ve met many people who had experienced an even harder struggle than myself and were longing to find help but didn’t know who or where to go. And they were left to solve that by themselves as often people would look past them. I want to go into the legal field as an activist and begin to refocus our country on the very constitution that the founding fathers wrote for us. And to give those who are struggling in our country a better opportunity at justice than what they are given.

I wish to become a lawyer in the legal field and open up my very own law firm where I’d focus on hiring more minority lawyers who’ve all shared the same adversities that have led them to the same cause and along with representing those who are looking for legal advice also partnering with nonprofit organizations that work with single mothers, or the homeless that may need a legal advisor to help them deal with financial or legal issues so that they could provide themselves with a better opportunity.

Amanda Wolf

scholarship winner amanda wolf and chris finney

Amanda’s Winning Essay

When asked about what drove me to pursue law, many stories come to mind. Growing up my parents physically, mentally and emotionally abused me day in and day out. My life was a living nightmare that I could not wake up from. While I could tell many stories that had happened during my childhood that pushed me towards the direction to study law, one story specifically comes to mind.

I was about ten years old and had never lived a happy childhood. If I were to tell you every story, it would take months and you would swear I was speaking from a horror book. The one story I will talk about is, one weekend, my parents surprised me with a weekend “vacation” to Lake of the Ozarks, Missouri. The feeling of happiness overwhelmed me but, once we made it to the destination that would quickly change. My uncle rented a yacht for us all and I could have sworn I was dreaming. The first night we stayed on the yacht, my parents got a phone call that our house had gotten robbed while we were gone, and they had to rush home. My mom and dad left my brother and I in Lake of the Ozarks with my uncle. A small part of me was so happy that I finally was away from the horrible people who had made my entire life hell.

Meanwhile, my uncle got into a heated argument with a man at a restaurant. Within minutes, my brother and I were caught in the middle of gun fire. I was only ten years old and having guns fired at me. My brother and I were in a strange place at night and had no idea where to run. We just ran into the darkness… alone, scared, confused… We eventually ran into a boat rental establishment and asked for help. We sat there for a few hours until my uncle came and found us. During this entire time, no police had gotten involved.

We returned to the yacht that night as if nothing happened. For as long as I could remember, my parents would leave for weeks at a time to “binge” and I never knew when or if they would ever be back. This was no different. I had no idea if or when my parents would come back to Lake of the Ozarks for us or if we would be forgotten there. I thank God for my older brother through this entire experience. If he would have not been there to protect me through some obstacles of my childhood, I would have not made it out alive.

My parents would tell me that I was nothing, worthless, garbage, that I could never amount to anything in life, and I believed it. I believed that I wouldn’t live past the age of eighteen. I grew up in a world that I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy. Being eight years old with tears running down my face, begging myself to hold on and that I was stronger that this. I tried to commit suicide when I was eight years old, twelve years old and fifteen years old. Fortunately, I failed. I got pregnant at the age of sixteen by my high school sweetheart and that literally saved my life. My daughter gave me a reason to live and stay strong. Many people would say having a baby at such a young age would be the worst thing you could do but, it was the exact opposite for me. Although, it was not planned, it was the absolute best thing that could have happened to me.

After having a beautiful baby girl, I knew I did not want her to experience the same things I did. I wanted her to have an amazing childhood and grow up in an entirely different world. I cut my parents out of my life and proceeded to research law. My daughter deserved to have a mother that she was proud of. I did not want to be another teen mom stereotype. I wanted to be able to tell my daughter that I overcame life’s obstacles and everything that had happened to me. I wanted her to know that no matter what your past is, your future is what matters. That she can do anything she sets her mind to. She deserves the world I was determined to give her everything she deserved.

Being a teen mother, I did not have a lot of money and I needed to use my parents tax papers to apply for any help in school. I had cut them out of my life and did not want to speak to them. The school said that there was nothing I could do if I did not have that paperwork so, I had to hold off on applying for school until I could give my own tax paperwork. This took a few years because, I was discouraged after not being able to sign up when it was convenient for me and being overwhelmed with work and raising a baby. I eventually was able to sign up using my own tax papers and start this journey. When I say I felt accomplished, I really mean it. Just a few years before this, I did not think I would live to see the age of eighteen. I thought I would not accomplish anything in life.

I chose to study law because, I believed that everything that happened to me could have been avoided if I just knew a little more. If maybe there was someone who cared and knew more about the law to help me. There HAD to be a law against this right? I wanted to know if children had any rights and if they didn’t, why not? Children are born having to put all of their trust into their parents. They know no different but, sometimes parents do not deserve your trust. They made me believe that all the torture, trauma, and abuse they put me through was my fault. My father made me believe that when he woke me up in the middle of the night with a knife to my neck, that it was my fault. I shouldn’t have done whatever it was that he didn’t like.

I chose to study law because, my parents should not be free people. They should not be able to live their life doing whatever they want whenever they want after what they had done to my brother and I. They shouldn’t be able to live everyday without a care in the world, while I struggle with PTSD, depression and anxiety from the things they had done. I deserve to have justice for my childhood. Other children deserve to have justice for their trauma. Most children do not have a voice because, they are scared and confused. I knew that I wanted to help, that everyone deserves justice. I refuse to let my daughters grow up in a world where they are scared to come forward because, no one will believe them. I refuse to let my daughters grow up in a world where they are scared that they will not get justice. They deserve to grow up in a world where bad people go to jail and they have a voice to help that happen. I deserve to go further in my education. We deserve to have justice.

Larisa Nesimovic

scholarship winner Larisa Nesimovic

Larisa Nesimovic’s Winning Essay

“Volim te, never forget who you are, and never stop chasing your dreams,” those words from my Nana replay in my head every day. August 11, 2018 at 1:35 AM is the day my life changed forever. I spent my twentieth birthday in the hospital with my best friend: my Nana. I was there for days waiting for a miracle, but the miracle never came. My Nana took her last struggling breath, a sound which will haunt me forever, as I felt her hand turn cold.

When the war in Bosnia started in 1992 and Bosnians were being needlessly slaughtered, my Nana sought refuge in Germany, where my parents met. A couple of years later, after their temporary refugee immigration status expired, my parents and Nana were forced out of Germany and had to find a new home. This expulsion brought them overseas to America, the “Land of Opportunities,” where I was soon assigned the “privilege” of being the first of four children to help navigate my Nana, my parents, my siblings, and myself through the unknown. My Nana and parents worked exhausting, laborious jobs to make ends meet. They had little in the way of formal education, but witnessing their perseverance made me into the hardworking, resilient woman I am today. As my Nana always said to me, for your dreams to come true, you do not have to be the most privileged person, only the most hardworking.

Because my parents worked tirelessly, I was on my own a lot of the time, but I knew what I had to do. Even before kindergarten, I would fixate over Sesame Street, not to entertain myself, but as a way to teach myself the unfamiliar language of this country, which nobody in my family could speak. Everything I have accomplished, I needed to figure out for myself. Having nobody to turn to for help made everything harder than it should have been, especially school. I had no help with homework in elementary school. I had no help getting a job. I had no help filling out college applications. Everything was, and still is, a learning process. Luckily, I am a quick learner.

In the summer of 2008, my family visited our home country, Bosnia. During this visit, I realized my passion and purpose in life. As a ten-year-old, I saw so many destroyed buildings, unemployed people, and children living in poverty. I was heartbroken. I thought to myself, how did I get so lucky? It gave me survivor’s guilt; I felt guilty that my family and I received a second chance that many others did not. From this guilt arose a fiery passion, an idea to fight for all people who did not get a second chance. After that, I often found myself standing up for those who were at a disadvantage. I transformed my guilt into a passion for equality and justice. I have worked hard to get to where I am, but I was also fortunate. I needed to find a way to help people who were not as lucky as I was.

I learned that one way I could help was through the law. My Nana worked hard to give her family a chance, but I learned first-hand that sometimes the law could get in the way. My cousin got in trouble with the legal system, having done nothing to deserve his deportation back to our war-torn country. He was a boy, in a strange land, who got involved with the wrong things and had nobody to help him. Even though I was just a young girl, I often Googled why he was in trouble and what could have been done to aid him throughout the whole process. My Nana was devastated by this, and I wanted to learn more, not only for my cousin’s sake, but for others like him. After his deportation, my Nana and I would have long conversations about how I would one day advocate for people like our family, a family who had no idea what they were doing in a country so foreign to them. I want to be that person who cares for the underprivileged and pushes them in the right direction. I want to be what no one was for our family. This experience made me sure that I want to be an attorney and make a difference in people’s lives.

Consequently, when I received the chance to work at a law firm, it seemed like a perfect fit. I find myself thinking of the clients’ cases when I leave work and wondering if there is anything else that can be done to help them. Using the critical thinking and research skills I have acquired while working at the firm and through my pre-law classes at Saint Louis University, I try to assist each client to the best of my ability. I love seeing the joy in the clients’ smiles and the sound of gratitude in their voices. I love helping people in any way that I can; translating from Bosnian to English for our clients gives me a first-hand look as to how much minorities struggle when it comes to the legal system. They cannot understand simple English, much less legal jargon. One of our Bosnian clients calls weekly and asks for me. Her case has not changed in months, yet she says she feels a weight taken off her shoulders whenever I talk to her. I look forward to being able to do even more once I become an attorney. Law is helping me become who I am – like my Nana said, I should never forget who I am. Working with the law reminds me every day of who I am and more importantly, who I want to be.

My Nana and parents took on the job of surviving in a foreign land, while I have taken on the job of self-actualization. The refugee generational gap is real, and it is a luxury to be able to search for purpose, meaning, and fulfillment while also helping people get the chances I was lucky enough to get. My background gives me the burning ambition to strive to be what my minority family once needed and make a difference in people’s lives as an attorney. Being awarded this scholarship would be another stepping stone to becoming an attorney and fulfilling my dream and my promise to my Nana. I would utilize the hard work ethic, determination, and passion that my Nana instilled in me to make sure my family’s struggles do not go to waste. Through my work as an attorney, the second chance my family and I received will benefit more than just us. I will never forget who I am and I will never stop chasing my dream. Law school is just the beginning.