Corinna Pilat

Legal jargon is confusing. Even as I pursue my legal degree, I find legal jargon confusing and complicated. I often ponder if it is confusing for me, it has to be that much more confusing for people whose native language is not English and who don’t understand the legal system. As an attorney, I want to help all people receive those resources; even if it is just as simple as explaining where to find resources or what kind of resources are offered. This is what being a Thomas More Scholar means to me.

Growing up as a child of refugees was tough but showed me the importance of understanding how to find resources and how important it is to understand the legal system. As my parents were learning English and trying to assimilate to a new culture while also keeping their traditions alive, I was trying to learn what it meant to be a “Russian in America.” This meant that I was labeled as “that Russian girl from a big family” a lot. While I do not mind that label today, it did cause some stress and anxiety in my formative years. Being “that Russian girl from a big family” meant that I had to help my parents when they needed a translator, or help schedule appointments and interpret materials sent to or mailed to them. It also meant that my family used low income resources. Though the resources were truly needed for my family’s well-being, I remember how it felt to be stereotyped and how many people would look down upon my family. I remember feeling little and uncomfortable. As a Thomas More, I would like to use the lessons I learned growing up to help change the stereotype that some have about those who receive low income assistance. This is one thing that has led me to pursue legal studies.

My real passion for legal work and legal studies came to me through my studies in undergraduate school. As a Psychology major at the University of Washington I learned the importance of working with each person on an individual level. This meant listening to each person as he/she explained their concern and figuring out a way to lend a helping hand. I was able to harness this skill as I volunteered for various programs dedicated to helping minors with their studies (through the Pipeline Project) and with their legal issues (Project for Youth Justice). I have continued to utilize this skill in law school and want to continue refining this skill as I finish my legal education.

I am extremely honored that I was chosen to be a Thomas More Scholar. The goals and mission of the scholarship echo what I am looking for in being a public servant and how to help towards a better society. I am excited to continue pursing my legal studies at Gonzaga where I will continue to try to affect change at a grassroots level. My goal is to leave everyone I come across in a better place then they were before I met them. Being a Thomas More will help me achieve my goals by providing me the platform to make connections and using those connections to achieve my goals.