Matt’s winning essay:
I have worked with children and their families as a middle school teacher and basketball coach for the past seven years. From Brookyln to the Bronx to Chicago, immersing myself into diverse communities has essentially been at the heart of my job. Although I originally planned to attend law school immediately after graduating from college in 2012, I decided to spend a year teaching instead and genuinely enjoyed it so much that I decided to continue much longer. Besides my love for kids in general, the reason this work was so gratifying for me is because it gave me an opportunity to push, motivate, and inspire the youth who hold unlimited potential.
Ultimately, however, I decided that I could make a greater impact on the field of education with a law degree. I am particularly sensitive to issues relating to children who deal with trauma, and my interest in family law stems from my desire to ensure all kids feel safe both at school and at home. I come from a large family—my parents had six children and adopted three children as well. To this day, I admire the resiliency and positive attitude of my adopted siblings who were unable to meet or establish a healthy relationship with their biological parents. Yet my teaching experience has shown me that there are too many children who deal with trauma in ways that affect their ability to learn, and they often do not have someone who will strongly advocate for them. In many cases it seems that the legal system has failed these children, and I am hoping to be a part of the solution.
I grew up in the south suburbs of Chicago and have lived on the south side of Chicago for the past two years. I currently work part-time for my state representative in the 33rd district of Illinois, which includes parts of Chicago. This community is very special to me. While I cannot say for sure what I will be doing ten years from now—practicing family law, working for the Department of Education, going into politics, or opening my own school—I can say for sure that my desire is to work in a way that gives back to the children and families in Chicago.