Elite Lawyer

Fall 2022 Elite Lawyer Scholarship Winner

Shreya Shivakumar

Shreya Shivakumar

This past semester, we received nearly 400 applications. Shreya’s submission stood out to us amongs the many other applicants. Not only is Shreya’s writing high quality, but she has also dedicated a great deal of time, resources, and effort into her community. Having been exposed to the difficulties of food insecurity, Shreya founded a company that helps to alleviate this struggle for other children and families.

Read Shreya’s Essay:

Empathy fuels change. I never expected to experience much empathy from strangers during my childhood in Washington Heights. As first-generation Indian immigrants, my parents and I came to New York City on a leap of faith. Instead of being greeted with the picturesque notions of prosperity we had anticipated, my family witnessed the reality of hunger in America. We lived paycheck to paycheck, stretching every dollar my father earned from work to barely cover the rent. At six years old, I battled food insecurity alongside my parents, helpless to do anything more than hope to alleviate our struggles.

While volunteering at my local food pantry years later, I discovered that people from low-income neighborhoods could seldom access healthy allergy-safe foods. To address this resource gap, I founded Nourish America, a charitable organization providing organic and allergy-friendly food to people in need. Since then, I have held allergy-friendly food drives to donate over 4,500 pounds of food to communities in three states and fundraised $12,800 to alleviate hunger. My food allergy advocacy inspired me to found Allergies For Kids, my Girl Scout Gold Award initiative. I held food allergy education webinars for 340 children in 16 states and uploaded my curriculum to the internet so that children worldwide could learn about allergies. Nourish America allowed me to assist people in need in March 2020 when I learned that 120 refugee families struggled to feed their children. I knew I couldn't remain idle with the threat of chronic hunger looming over their heads. I held a virtual fundraiser to provide the families with fresh produce and groceries until they could get back on their feet four months later. I was elated when I learned that one refugee had compared Nourish America's weekly food deliveries to "being visited by an angel." After reading this message, I reflected on my childhood when my family and I dealt with chronic hunger. I felt empowered, knowing I was no longer helpless to alleviate the struggles of those around me.

Today, I fight boldly to fix the injustices I cannot accept by wielding my weapon of choice: empathy. My courage and compassion complement each other like yin and yang to work in perfect harmony. Nourish America is the love child of my passion for people and my persistence in not settling for anything less than justice. Just as I now advocate for those living in food insecurity, I will use the law to advance social change that uplifts underprivileged people and minorities. My experience as a social entrepreneur leading Nourish America has inspired me to pursue a career in public interest law. After graduating college, I will attend law school and join an impact litigation firm to practice law. I expect to encounter obstacles on this journey, but I remain unafraid of what the future holds, for I am living proof that empathy fuels change. Realizing and accepting this intrinsic strength has rendered me unstoppable in achieving progress towards equality.

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