GJEL Accident Attorneys is proud to announce the Spring 2019 winner of its semi-annual GJEL Law Student Scholarship
Law school is expensive, and the attorneys at GJEL understand the financial burdens law students face when working towards their degrees.
In support of those efforts, GJEL is pleased to award two $2,000 scholarships semi-annually to deserving students. There is one winner per scholarship period.
In order to be eligible for this award, the student must be enrolled in an accredited U.S. law school by Spring 2020. Students must provide a copy of a valid school-issued ID at the time of their submission to prove enrollment.
How to Apply
The scholarship is based on an essay of 500-1000- word essay in response to the prompt: “Reasons I wanted to go to law school.” Essays are judged on quality, thoughtfulness and content.
All essays submitted for this contest will be exclusively published on the GJEL.com website. For further scholarship criteria, see: GJEL Law Student Scholarship
Spring 2019 Winner Dayana Saint Vil
GJEL lawyers have selected Dayana Saint Vil as the Spring 2019 award winner.
The child of Haitian immigrants, Dayana’s passion for the law began as a child after witnessing her mother struggle to make ends meet after their father left. Dayana wants to help people like her mother who, while she always worked hard, didn’t understand critical legal rights and protections that might have helped her family and made their life more stable.
“What if she was privy to the programs and laws that protect homeowners and tenants?” wrote Dayana. “What if she pursued bankruptcy and debtors’ rights? What if she had obtained a divorce judgment that clearly set forth her rights in the dissolution of her marriage?
It is both my challenges and my interpretation of these challenges that fueled my drive to attend law school…One of my many strengths lies in recognizing if people are knowledgeable of all the resources available, they would be able to change their situations. Many would not be homeless, many would not face unjust imprisonment, and many would fight in the face of discrimination that permeates countless facets of society…
I desire to become an attorney and be the voice of those who have no voice, those who have surrendered, and those who feel defeated by the system.”
Read Dayana’s full essay below:
Reasons I Wanted to Go to Law School
One of the first things people do when they walk into their homes is turn on the light. What we take for granted is assuming that there is electricity to provide this light. I lived in my home for 20 years, and not once had this notion crossed my mind. However, in May of 2009, upon returning home from a long closing shift at work, when I flipped the switch, the light did not turn on; there was no electricity. Less than two seconds later, my mother greeted me at the doorway asserting that the lack of electricity was not caused by her inability to pay the electric bill. Instead, she attributed the lack of electricity to my father taking drastic measures to force us out of the only real home that we had ever known. In March of 2010, gas, heat, and hot water were added to the list of essentials that were no longer at our disposal. My mother asserted that my father was, again, the cause of the disruption of the services. Life, as I had come to know it, would never be the same and little did I know that this is what would propel me to attend law school.
My parents separated in January of 2000, causing my sister and me to be dependents of a single parent household. My mother tirelessly worked two to three jobs to ensure my sister and I was cared for. Meanwhile, all of the utility bills and the deed to the house were in my father’s name. This was due to her previously having faced foreclosure, having to refinance, and then rebuying our home in my father’s name. I’m sure she felt as if there was no other way to carry out the household responsibilities. But what if there was another way? What if she was privy to the programs and laws that protect homeowners and tenants? What if she pursued bankruptcy and debtors’ rights? What if she had obtained a divorce judgment that clearly set forth her rights in the dissolution of her marriage? It could be assumed that she knew of these remedies, but did nothing about it. Perhaps she did nothing because she felt the system would fail her. She emigrated from Haiti in search of the American dream, actually attained it, but somehow could not make ends meet- even with multiple streams of income. Conceivably, the thought of seeking aid crossed her mind, but she feared she would be met with callousness and nonchalance. This is often the case when immigrants try to maneuver through the legal system. One of my goals in attaining a public interest law school education at CUNY School of Law is playing an integral role in making adjustments to our justice system that aim to move away from these biases.
My view of the challenges that my family has faced is seen through a systemic lens. My perspective became diversified when I began my undergraduate studies. At this point, I was attending school full-time (which included commuting from Brooklyn to Long Island) and working part-time. It was at this point I realized that you must truly make every effort to reach your fullest potential. You must focus and make the sacrifices that you are confident will give you an invaluable return. You must ask the right questions and seek those who can actually answer these questions, or at the very least, help you come to a conclusion that challenges your way of thinking. Ultimately, I resolved that I could not play victim to my circumstances. I decided that I would take control of my destiny and help others do the same.
It is both my challenges and my interpretation of these challenges that fueled my drive to attend law school. While there are many things that I still do not know, one of my many strengths lies in recognizing if people are knowledgeable of all the resources available, they would be able to change their situations. Many would not be homeless, many would not face unjust imprisonment, and many would fight in the face of discrimination that permeates countless facets of society. Through attaining my Juris Doctor, I will be able to advocate for those in my community- those who speak my first and second language (which are English and Haitian-Creole), those who share a similar cultural background, and even those who do not; those that simply just want to feel as if the person representing them can relate. My mother reacted passively. In contrast, I choose to be an active agent for change. I desire to become an attorney and be the voice of those who have no voice, those who have surrendered, and those who feel defeated by the system.
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