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Fall 2022 Newland & Newland Single Parent Scholarship Winner

Stephanie Salinas

Stephanie Salinas

Newland & Newland, LLP is providing Stephanie with $1,000 to help supplement her educational expenses. In Stephanie’s essay, you learn of her experience of being raised by a single mother, and how her mother’s strength inspired her throughout her life. A hard-working and passionate Honduran-American student, Stephanie aspires to use her law degree to become an immigration attorney.

Read Stephanie’s Essay:

As a young girl, I saw my mom leave to work early in the morning to get to the bus stop in time, and I was left to take on adult responsibilities after her departure. My little sister and I knew enough to rush home after school, do our homework and eat takeout or frozen pizzas, while my mom kept her hands full with keeping a roof over our heads.

The weekends were reserved for church and errands as a family. They were not as fun as when my dad was around. He suffered a stroke at a young age, leaving him paralyzed on the left side of his body, which ultimately led my family to be his aide and interpreter for most of my childhood.

My mother couldn’t keep up as his caretaker and decided to send him back to his home country, Honduras, where the rest of his family witnessed him pass away as his illness worsened. All the pain and trauma I endured as a child was transformed into energy I put into my schoolwork, knowing it would put a smile on my mom’s face from time to time.

Although we went through many struggles as a small family, my mom always managed to encourage my sister and I to excel in academics. I would not be where I am if she never provided motivating words and supported me financially. She influenced me in many ways but especially in my career choice due to her resilience on life’s shortcomings and her personal journey as an immigrant.

I felt a constant need to learn more about society’s standards and ponder the laws that set them. My curiosity grew as I saw the lifestyle my family had due to the limited choices my mother had as a single parent. My college major required an internship where I worked for Representative Carol Ammons in Urbana, Illinois, summarizing bills she would share with her colleagues in our state’s capital. Her office structure was my first taste of the inner workings of politics. There were discussion panels dedicated to bills about clean energy, education, health, labor, anything the law played a role in. I soon learned that systemic change is a constant and ongoing battle, deepening my resolve to continue developing my political mind.

Having my family at my side is what led me to achieve more than what was destined for me. My motives to be a lawyer come from wanting to be an agent of change, and to better understand the roots of problems in our society to find solutions. Although my childhood lacked the presence of a traditional household, my mother’s unconditional love and support led me to accomplish much more than I imagined. My journey as a Honduran-American woman brought me to new discoveries of how we face injustices in our everyday lives simply because of our race, class, or gender.

I hope to achieve my career goals and be able to give back to the community that raised me. I found that education was my way out of all the sadness I experienced in my life, by being able to provide for my family in a way we never imagined. My mom always showed me that hard work pays off, and to appreciate the opportunities that come our way. Her strength after my father’s passing showed me that anything is possible if you set your mind to it. By beginning my journey as a law student, I am prepared to take all the necessary steps to achieve my goals and know that my family’s continuous support will take me a long way.

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