The Central Illinois Paralegal Association (CIPA) offers students enrolled in a local paralegal studies program the opportunity to receive a $500 scholarship. In December, CIPA named four Illinois State University legal studies students the winners of this grant. The scholarship recipients are legal studies (LGS)/political science double majors Amanda Pinkham and Paris Hall, LGS minor Haley Schnapp, and undergraduate LGS certificate student Amanda Watson.

Applicants for the scholarship submitted essays about what they learned about themselves that might assist them in navigating a future career as a paralegal in light of the transformations brought on by the COVID-19 health crisis. All four women shared how the pandemic impacted them.

Pinkham stated that “throughout the pandemic, I have learned from kindness and from hardship . . . The kindness I received reminded me why I chose this career path in the first place, and I hope to use these realizations to make me a better paralegal.”

“You grow when your life is hectic, everything has changed, and you’re forced to adapt,” Hall remarked. “Despite the fact that this deadly virus has definitely put a damper on the entire year, it brought me out of my shell and allowed me to see a different side to myself—a side that I would have never seen if this pandemic didn’t happen, so I am forever grateful for that.”

Schnapp shared what she learned. “Having the ability to adapt to your surroundings, work under pressure, and remain positive are three qualities that I have either gained or strengthened during the COVID-19 health crisis that would assist me as a paralegal.”

Watson wrote that the pandemic made her “realize just how important it is to complete my certificate, so I have more security for my future. I have worked so hard and persevered to change the trajectory of the life I have been given versus the life I want and see for myself.”

CIPA is a National Association of Legal Assistants affiliate and is composed of volunteer paralegals working every day to advance the paralegal profession. Carolyn Pitts, a paralegal with the Champaign firm of Erwin, Martinkus, & Cole, is the acting chair of the CIPA scholarship committee. Pitts has served on the ISU Paralegal Advisory Committee since it was formed in 2007.