The window for applying for the Corban Gunn, Attorney at Law Fall 2020 Scholarship has come to a close. The applications all contained high quality essays and it was a pleasure to read them all. We’re proud to help students further their education and provide opportunities to help them take the next step. We’re excited to announce the winner of our Fall 2020 scholarship. Thank you to all applicants!
Congratulations to Victoria Crynes of Oklahoma!
She will be attending her first year of law school at The Pennsylvania State University Law School.
The Fall 2020 Scholarship essay topic was:
How do you define success? Is this definition different for your own success versus the success of others?
Here’s her essay:
Rampant injustice, systemic inequality, overwhelming inaction from authorities, and a massive deficit of accountability are a few of the factors devastating the entire United States of America. Recently, a family friend was arrested while peacefully protesting. I immediately contacted an African American friend who is a lawyer. At that moment, the dual identity as an African American and a lawyer promoted my friend to a community leader, an advocate, and a resource. Yet, due to his position at a prestigious Oklahoma law firm, he chose not to help us. Failing to serve as a leader in the minority community, he prioritized his career over the community. Moments like this prove the increasing need for minority leaders across all employment sectors. As a future lawyer my mind questions, “Who will represent minorities? Who will serve as the judges on these types of cases?”
Members of minority communities are instrumental in facilitating legal change and serving as community leaders. In my definition of success, the term must extend beyond my personal accomplishments. Success is amplified when one uses their position to empower others to achieve more, to transform abysmal statistics, and to broaden opportunities. As a future Latina lawyer practicing corporate international law, I will lead as a change agent for international peace, helping to foster local initiatives built on transnational partnerships. In my future, there will never be a conflict between serving my community and pursuing my career. Success encompasses those around me as I strive to broaden the representation of Latina’s in the international workforce.
A paradigm shift is necessary for the legal profession to adequately respond to crises. Minority attorneys and professionals can play a significant role in seeking strategies for problems experienced in our communities which are further exacerbated by crises. The international nature of the Coronavirus prompts a need in international corporate law firms for minority lawyers with diverse perspectives. The current number of minority attorneys is lamentable. In 2019, the American Bar Association reported that only 15% of all legal professionals are minorities (“ABA 2019 Report”). As a Latina, I find it even more disheartening that Latinas account for less than 2% of the legal professions with all Latinos accounting for 4.2% of the legal profession (Mehta). However, the Hispanic National Bar Association states that Hispanics, as fastest growing ethnic group in the US, represent more than 18% of the population (Mehta). I am committed to increasing the number of Latina and minority attorneys to strengthen the ability of lawyers to represent and resolve problems spanning diverse communities. Ethnic diversity within corporate law will create positive, progressive, and systemic change from the boardroom to the courtroom. Empowering a pipeline for diversity in international law is one way I will measure success in my career.
My motivation stems from the humble beginnings of my Grandma Sanchez who grew up in a two-bedroom, dirt floor home in Pecos, Texas. In West Texas speaking Spanish in school was severely dealt with and she continually endured the harshness of racial discrimination. By sixteen, she married and worked in factories. At twenty-one she had six children to provide for. Education became a prized commodity as a result of her poverty. With a tenth-grade education, my grandma had two goals for her children: to graduate high school and to get good insurance. My mom took my grandma’s advice, surpassing the goal of just getting good insurance, she also earned a college degree. My mother worked feverishly to ensure that my two brothers and I made education a cornerstone of our lives.
Yet, in every endeavor, she taught us to serve others. Education and service became tools for transforming our lives and those around us. As a young child, I collected cans alongside my siblings. We donated the money to the homeless. We often helped my mom with educational outreach programs for underprivileged students. From passing out workshop papers at the age of five, my role has since evolved to leading workshops. In fact, my Girl Scout Gold Project was an educational outreach program for girls that were wards belonging to the state of Texas. The educational initiative has been employed in schools throughout Texas, Oklahoma, and Arizona. At Arizona State University, I continued the trend as I initiated a prom dress and suit drive. I fundraised over one-hundred dresses and suits which students earned by attending college readiness programs. My mother taught us that everything we learned, everything we achieved, could be used to empower others to achieve their dreams. In my family, success is a term deeply rooted in empowerment.
My journey towards academic success began my senior year of high school with recognition as a National Hispanic Scholar. This long-term goal began in the 7th grade with my determination set to receiving a full-ride scholarship to college. Since then I have served as a Latina representative internationally, nationally, and locally. In 2018, I earned the coveted position of the Outstanding Graduate of the W.P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University. I have received the honor to represent the United States as a student ambassador in international exchange programs in Scotland, the Czech Republic, and Taiwan. I have pursued postgraduate degrees at the University of Cambridge and University College Dublin. I have had the opportunity to speak at the US Consulate General in Edinburgh, to share my experience with the Former President of Latvia, and to present my thesis research at the University of Cambridge. I have interviewed thirty-five politicians from Ireland and the United Kingdom. I have witnessed the Taiwanese celebrate their freedoms as China threatens their independence. I have experienced the impact of communism in Eastern Europe. I have immersed myself in the critical and historical moments of Brexit from the perspectives of the Scottish, the English, and the Irish. Most recently, I have walked alongside church members in a prayer walk for justice, racial healing, and recognition of the rights of the black community.
For me, success is a global and local concept, working to bridge diverse mindsets into comprehensive solutions for modern challenges. My professional ethos is to empower global change through law, representing minorities while supporting the success of others. As I strive to break my next glass ceiling as a Latina lawyer, I remain proud of the changes across minority communities that are yet to come. I have witnessed poverty and the power of education to transform generational opportunities. My vision of success lies not in motives such as financial status, but in the ability to empower the lives of others. Yet, I recognize the stark reality had I been born sixty years earlier, as my grandmother was, my life journey would in no way reflect the one I have been fortunate to experience. My journey is built on the backbone of my grandmother and the strength of my mother.
In global contexts, legal acumen is essential for creating solutions, navigating challenges, and preparing businesses for a new future. My understanding of success stems from a multitude of incidents that have cultivated my commitment to a career in international corporate law. Each experience served as a steppingstone, creating a foundation for global understanding. Learning internationally, I have honed skills in research, writing, global business practices, international negotiation techniques, and an international network of friends. My next goals are to graduate at the top of my law class at Pennsylvania State University Law School. I plan to be an active member in the Latinx Law Student Society, to compete in the Jessup International Law Moot Court Competition, and to establish outreach initiatives among minority high school students. I plan to pursue a career in corporate law, conducting international legislation with a commitment to pro bono work. I aim to join an international firm such as Dechert LLP. After gaining firm experience, I plan to transition to the role of a civil servant within the US State Department. In my career, I will be a leader focused on creating better environments for underprivileged individuals while fostering a pipeline for other minorities striving to work internationally. I believe one’s success should be harnessed into a tool to empower countless others.
“ABA 2019 Report: Lawyer Demographics, Earnings, Tech Choices, and More.” MyCase Blog,
13 Aug. 2019. www.mycase.com, https://www.mycase.com/blog/2019/08/aba-2019-
Mehta, Darcy. 2018 Who We Are…What We Do. Hispanic National Bar Association, 2018.
For more information on the next scholarship period for Fall 2021, please see our law firm’s scholarship page. Congratulations again, Victoria! Good luck in all your future endeavors.