We concluded our scholarship competition for 2021, and have selected to very worthy winners. It was a great experience for us, hearing so many inspiring stories about strength, survival, and hope for the future.
After all, that’s the point. So much of what we do here on a day to day basis is counseling women who’ve found themselves in a terrible situation – whether domestic violence drug or alcohol addiction, fear of homelessness and poverty, the victim of an extramarital affair, or really any number of circumstances – and are looking into their divorce and custody options.
For the women who find their way into our office, it’s a bleak time. It doesn’t stay that way, though. In fact, I’ve said it over and over again; one of my favorite things about this work is that the woman who we meet at the beginning of the case is not the woman we see at the end of it. It’s usually a really incredible transformation, and a second shot at creating a “best life” scenario.
Marriage, when it’s wonderful, is great – but it can also be the thing that holds you back from the happiness, fulfilment, and security you deserve. Sponsoring the scholarship competition is one way that we hold up examples of women who are really going for their goals and setting an example for our newer clients. It’s letting us be who we want to be, which is basically a group of women who lift other women up and help them reach their true potential.
Maybe that sounds weird, coming from divorce attorneys. But that’s really more often what the experience is like! It’s not just helping someone escape a bad, unhappy, unsuccessful, or unfulfilling marriage – it’s helping them be able to see the alternatives, to believe in themselves, and to really embrace the opportunity for a fresh start.
It can be financially challenging, though, especially if your fresh start involves a return to school. Being a nontraditional student is not easy, especially if its right on the heels of a divorce or custody case. Though we don’t require our scholarship competition winners to have been through a divorce or custody case, we still find that most of our applicants have been, or are going through, one.
Without further ado, though….
Our 2021 Kristen Diane Hofheimer Memorial Scholarship Winners are Olivia Brock and Amanda Fernandez!
We made some choices this year that surprised even us.
Amanda, for one, isn’t even in school. She was gutsy, and applied to for the scholarship so that she could get some capital to start her own business. We weren’t sure how we felt about it at first; we were committed to the idea of helping women achieve their goals through higher education, but the more we thought about it the more we thought we’d have to let this one slide.
After all, we do – obviously! – really believe in women in business, and her application impressed us. Not everyone’s path is the same, and not everyone’s path is through additional education. And, really, if we’re honest, it’s maybe not the education that was the point, anyway. The point is putting women in a position to create their own second acts. So, if, for Amanda, it’s a future in business, we applaud her, we support her, and, ultimately, we chose her to receive the scholarship award for 2021.
Olivia, on the other hand, hopes to use her scholarship to go to law school – and pursue a career in family law. Her personal essay was especially poignant, so I’ve elected to share some of it here. She writes about shadowing attorneys, and her experience watching people going through divorce and custody cases:
“I witnessed attorneys and judges positively impact people’s lives in times of great need. I saw attorneys with heart that consulted clients with encouragement and judges with true concern for children in unfortunate circumstances. Right before my eyes, the system of law became a grand system of people helping people and I started to see the ways that I could make a difference.”
In both cases, the stories were strong and compelling, and certainly give us all hope for the future. We look forward to our 2022 scholarship competition, and all of the amazing stories we’ll hear then, too. This really is one of our favorite parts of the year, and we’re so proud to have been a part of it.
Congratulations to Olivia and Amanda!