Scholars for Justice fight discrimination and work for change
(August 25, 2010) The 2010 Scholars for Justice at Seattle University School of Law bring international experience and a commitment to working for social change.
Chanele Brothers and Sarah Haywood are the recipients of the law school's prestigious Scholars for Justice Awards, given each year to two admitted students who demonstrate a commitment to a career in public interest law, both before and after law school.
Most people think of gypsies as a Halloween costume. Chanele Brothers learned during her time in Romania that gypsy is actually a pejorative term for the Romani, Europe's most marginalized population, and it changed the course of her studies and career. Living abroad, she saw how poorly the Romani were perceived and treated.
Brothers, who earned a B.A. in Russian studies from Stetson University in Florida, intended to specialize in Russian studies in graduate school. Instead, she became a member of the Romani Studies program at the University of Texas at Austin, where she earned her master's degree in Russian, East European and Eurasian Studies.
She learned more about discrimination when she taught at a private Muslim school in Austin, Texas. She found students to be open to new ideas, including her courses on world cultures and religions, and respectful of others. They did not find the same respect themselves outside the school.
"To see these children that I adored face such discrimination just because they were wearing a head scarf was painful," she said.
For her dedication to eradicating discrimination and working for justice, she was named a Scholar for Justice at Seattle University School of Law.
Brothers has volunteered with the United Way, the American Cancer Society and the American Red Cross. Her interest turned toward law school when she volunteered with a tenants' rights organization in Chicago. She is interested in studying immigration law and pursuing international externships offered through the law school.
"I saw all the different ways that law can change and help people," she said. "Poverty, homelessness, discrimination and inequality are realities in all societies, but through a strong commitment to justice, the effects can be minimized. This is what I intend to achieve through a career in public interest law."
Growing up as an adopted Korean American in New Mexico, Sarah Haywood sometimes struggled to find her own identity. She found it by reaching out to the Latino community at home and abroad - which eventually led her to law school.
As a high school student, Haywood volunteered in Costa Rica with Amigos de las Americas, working with low-income families. She went on to double major in Diplomacy and World Affairs and Spanish at Occidental College in Los Angeles, where she was also exposed to a larger Asian American community that brought her closer to her Korean cultural roots.
Hawyood returned to Latin America (Mexico and Honduras) twice to direct volunteer projects, most recently as a senior staff member managing 55 youth volunteers helping to plan to build school facilities. After college, she spent two years as an Americorps*VISTA member at El Centro de la Raza in Seattle, which provides direct services and advocacy for the Latino community.
"It's important to provide services, but at the same time we need to be changing the system that creates the need for services," she said.
For her commitment to service and change, she was named one of Seattle University School of Law's Scholars for Justice.
"The time I have spent working abroad juxtaposed with my work with local disempowered communities has helped me put into perspective both my capacity and limitations, as an individual, to effect change," Haywood said. "I believe a law education will increase this capacity, as well as redefine my limitations."
She looks forward to getting involved in justice-related activities at the law school and to studying abroad.
"Social justice is a systemic, institutional, societal issue, but the victims of social injustice are individual people," Haywood said. "These people and the relationships I share with them motivate my work."