By Laurence Kaldor, President of the VCLF
OVER THE PAST YEAR IN this column, we’ve seen several heartfelt stories of individuals who have confronted hardship and adversity with courage and determination and how those courageous people have benefitted from the generosity and commitment of remarkable service organizations like Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA), Safe Passage, Haven Hills and the Boys and Girls Clubs– all
of which are supported by the San Fernando valley Bar Association’s Valley Community Legal Foundation (VCLF) and the generous donations of committed, community Valley residents.
What many people are not aware of is that in addition to supporting these and other worthwhile charitable organizations, the VCLF encourages and provides scholarships to qualified students pursuing a legal education like Myrna Velasquez. Ever since Myrna immigrated to the United States at the age of 13, her father taught her that school should would be her number one priority. “Education has always been a big part of my life” said Myrna. ”I always knew I wanted to be successful and I knew I would accomplish my goals by educating myself.”
In high school, she realized that success at her studies would be the key to becoming a strong, independent woman. Her resolve paid dividends, and after completing her undergraduate degree in political science, she earned a master’s degree in public administration.
The subsequent years she spent working for an immigration attorney awakened the aspiration of becoming an attorney herself. Working with people of different backgrounds taught her that a career in the law would be more than just a job– it would give her the tools to help bring struggling families together and help reunite estranged family members with their loved ones.
Having grown up in Latin America, Myrna knows all too well the trials of poverty, the hardships of financial instability, and having to face the gut- wrenching choice between clothing, food, and education.
“I come from a humble family, a family that has been of great support to me,” said Myrna. “My father is a construction worker, and even though [he never earned] a lot of money, he has always helped me financially as best as he could. My economic situation is tough, as law school is very expensive. And there are tremendous sacrifices that I have had to make in order to pay for classes. I take nothing for granted. My hard work scholastically has paid off, as I have been blessed to receive scholarships that have funded a portion of my legal education. I am eternally grateful!”
Myrna is now in her second year of law school. Looking back, she thanks God for giving her the knowledge to lead her life in the most positive way possible. Looking forward, she is thankful for the Valley Community Legal Foundation for their encouragement and support.
“Law school has made me a different woman—a woman with bigger dreams and hopes,” said Myrna. Law school is by far one of the most difficult things that I have experienced. “It has taught me about stress, anxiety, and doubt. But I know that everything that I am going through is worth it because becoming an attorney is my greatest dream,” she said.
“All of us who have received financial help from this great Bar Foundation are extremely lucky and humble to receive such help, as I am. I cannot wait to pass the Bar exam so that I can utilize my law license and begin to give back by helping the less fortunate people of the San Fernando Valley.”
VCLF AT WORK
Every year the VCLF is proud to offer financial scholarships to qualified and worthy students from the San Fernando Valley who are pursuing a legal education. We are all encouraged by the amazing people that we support like Myrna Velasquez. On behalf of the VCLF, I truly thank you for your continued support, and I wish you a healthy and joyous holiday season a most prosperous New Year!