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These 1L scholarship winners are about to change the world

10k scholarship winners

In the right hands, a law degree can be a powerful tool – and Amanda I. Sarmiento of Texas A&M School of Law has all the makings of a true change agent.

BARBRI Law Preview and the ABA are proud to award this next great legal mind a $10,000 scholarship towards first-year law school tuition through the “One Lawyer Can Change the World” Scholarship opportunity. We are also proud to announce Katie McLaughlin of Loyola University Chicago School of Law as the $5,000 runner-up scholarship recipient.

Congratulations, Amanda I. Sarmiento and Katie McLaughlin! Best wishes as you go on to own law school and make your mark on the legal profession.

Here are their essay submissions:

Amanda I. Sarmiento

In my hometown, countless families are haunted by the terrifying thought of separation. Border towns such as Laredo are often associated with words like “immigration” and “border security,” and it is no wonder why. When over 90% of the population has roots in Mexico, it is easy to understand how such issues are at the heart of most discussions regarding the region.

Amanda Sarmiento

Growing up, I witnessed the horrors of families being torn apart due to deportation. I have known too many stories of law-abiding, community-loving, good-hearted people waiting years for their residency to pass through only to be denied citizenship at the door.

This is the reality for thousands of immigrants across the United States who arrive from all over the world. Throughout my short adult life, I have understood the ever increasing need for immigration attorneys to address such issues.

This, however, is just the tip of the problem at hand. I am going to Texas A&M School of Law to address the core of this issue: the law itself. It is not enough to create more immigration attorneys because the law in place today is constantly working against them and their clients. The existing system is burdened with an overwhelming influx of applications, tied together with a taxing application process and outrageous waiting periods.

It is my dream to one day become one of the select few who can actually change the law for the betterment of the system itself and the people who hope to bring prosperity to this great nation. Every person in this country is affected in some way by immigration. The topic is at the forefront of political discourse and a hot button issue in our society.

The money that you have so graciously put before me would greatly benefit me in my quest to create meaningful immigration legislation, and in doing so, change the world. Granting me this generous scholarship will substantially ease my financial burden by contributing to the expenses that law school accumulates through text books, housing, and overall living expenditures. It would also contribute to the education of a dedicated, disciplined, and driven individual who has every intention of fulfilling this dream. Thank you for taking the time to review my plea, and I anxiously await your response.

“From the bottom of my heart, I’d like to sincerely thank you and all of BARBRI for this incredibly generous scholarship. I am forever humbled and reassured that the future of this profession sits on the shoulders of my predecessors and visionaries such as yourselves. This scholarship will allow me the opportunity and privilege of impacting the lives of so many for years to come. On behalf of my family and myself, once again, thank you.”

–Amanda I. Sarmiento

Katie K. McLaughlin

Mandela freed the people. Obama brought them together. O’Connor sat on the bench for them when she was expected to sit on the sidelines. Sotomayor showed us that anyone from anywhere can do anything.

Katie McLaughlin

Long before they were Presidents or Justices, they were first-year law students with dreams of unity, equality, and freedom. Rising from humble roots, they overcame all odds to begin their legal educations, and the world has never since been the same.

Every lawyer has a unique story of the motivations and circumstances that called them to the law. As a young girl growing up in rural northeastern Minnesota in an economically depressed and medically underserved area, I looked up to those in my community and beyond who fought tirelessly to help others improve their quality of life. The values of service and justice were instilled within me. With recognition of the law as a vocation into which professionals enter for the fundamental purpose of advocating, I decided to pursue a legal education not for myself but on behalf of others. As a hopeful 1L, I dream of a world in which no person’s ability to achieve his or her potential is limited by a lack of access to quality, affordable health care.

Because of Presidents Obama and Mandela and Justices O’Connor and Sotomayor and every other predecessor, I enjoy the luxury of believing that perhaps I, too, can change the world through the law. This scholarship means that dream stays alive and the vision in sight.

“Working in the legal field, I have the great privilege of witnessing people make a difference in the lives of others every day. I have come to believe that one lawyer really can change the world. BARBRI and the ABA are dedicated to empowering individuals to do just that. Words cannot express how grateful and humbled I am to be so generously supported by BARBRI and the ABA in pursuit of my dreams.”

–Katie K. McLaughlin

ABA Law Student Division The Law Student Division empowers law student by providing them with meaningful connections to practicing professionals, job resources, relevant programming, and practical skills competitions. We represent the law student community by advocating for policies that improve legal education, champion diversity, and strengthen public service.