Meet this year’s winner, Columbia Law School student Helen Zhou, and learn how she is working to eliminate unequal access to education
On behalf of the attorneys and professional staff at Michigan Auto Law, I’d like to offer congratulations to Helen Zhou, winner of the Michigan Auto Law 2019 Law Student Diversity Scholarship!
Helen is a first-year law student at Columbia Law School in New York, NY. She graduated Cum Laude from Vanderbilt University with a dual Bachelor’s Degree in Mathematics and Molecular & Cellular Biology.
We chose Helen because of her tireless efforts to promote diversity among the 600 Vanderbilt University undergraduate students with whom she participated in the “Vanderbilt Student Volunteers for Science” program whose mission was to have college students teach science in Nashville’s middle schools.
Through her VSVS experience, Helen deepened her commitment to helping to make sure that all students have equal access to education.
To correct the “injustice” of unequal access to the education, Helen is going to Columbia Law School in order to accomplish her ultimate goal:
“Specifically, I want to pursue a career in Public Interest Law and write legislation to ensure equality in education and other human rights.”
That kind of thinking was why our attorneys first got together to create our Diversity Scholarship. It is also what makes Helen Zhou the perfect recipient for our 2019 Law Student Diversity Scholarship.
Our lawyers wish Helen nothing but the best during her studies at Columbia Law School and in her promising legal career that will follow.
Increasing diversity among teachers and educators
Helen concluded that one of the ways in which society can make equal access to education a reality is by increasing the diversity of teachers and mentors so that they better reflect the diversity of the students.
As she explains in her essay, which she submitted as part of her application for the Diversity Scholarship:
- “During the next few years [of my involvement in VSVS], I worked with dozens of inspiring, vastly diverse students who shared an enthusiasm for STEM [Science, Technology, Engineering and Math]. They included minorities, immigrants, and children with disabilities. A majority of them came from low-income families and attended understaffed Nashville public schools. Unfortunately, the reality of unequal access to STEM meant that many of them would face a lifetime of barriers in achieving their dreams of becoming doctors, scientists, and engineers.”
- “[A] lot of underrepresented minority (URM) students lack role models in STEM that are of a similar background.”
- “When I was elected co-president by the Vanderbilt Student Volunteers for Science board during my Junior year, I saw an opportunity to change this by increasing the diversity of our own network of over 600 volunteers. I realized the dual impact we could have by allowing minority middle schoolers to see a larger representation of themselves in higher education and by getting under-represented minority college students more involved in the STEM community.”
Using legislation to promote equal access to education
As Helen explains in her essay, she sees the importance of the role that legislation can play in either eradicating or creating unequal access to education:
“The more I read about issues such as how public-schools’ reliance on property taxes in my home state of Pennsylvania has deepened the funding gap between wealthy and poor districts, the more I am convinced of the direct impact legislation has on this kind of unequal access to a solid education.”
Michigan Auto Law scholarships
Each year, Michigan Auto Law awards a Diversity Scholarship to a law student. The next scholarship deadline is June 1, 2020. For more information on application guidelines and eligibility, visit our Diversity Scholarship webpage.
Michigan Auto Law also offers two other scholarships annually.
In addition to the Law Student Diversity Scholarship, our attorneys contribute to a scholarship for college students who have been seriously injured in a car accident as well as a Distracted Driving Awareness scholarship for high school juniors and seniors. Visit our Scholarships Page to learn more.