Loan Repayment Assistance Program Reaches Endowment Goal
The law school's chapter of Equal Justice Works (EJW) hosted the Inaugural Public Interest Recognition Dinner on March 7, 2009. The dinner was a fundraising event specifically created to honor alumni who have pursued careers in public interest law and to raise funds for the LRAP Endowment. Thanks to the hard work of the EJW student volunteers, the event raised $35,000 which allowed the LRAP fund to reach its original endowment goal of $100,000.
More than 150 people gathered in the Conour Atrium to hear former Congressman Andrew Jacobs, Jr. ‘58, who gave the keynote address, and to celebrate the three honorees: Emily Benfer, ‘05, Georgetown School of Law; Melody Goldberg, ‘06, Indiana Legal Services; and Marco Moreno, ‘03, Lewis & Kappes.
During her remarks, Emily Benfer, who worked for social justice issues by helping the homeless while a law student, spoke about the importance of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s words when he said, “The arc of the moral universe is long but it bends toward justice.” (The quote from Dr. King is etched on a plaque that hangs outside the classrooms on the third floor of the law school).
“As a student, I read those words and dreamed of the ways I would tug and pull on that arc until justice was realized,” she said. She spoke of the many lessons she learned, first from professors in law school and now from the clients for whom she advocates, but she says, “perhaps the most important [lesson] is finding your inspiration to bend the arc. For me, I know enduring motivation in my clients. One client, Tysha, showed me five fingers when I asked her how old she was. She drew me a rainbow, held my hand, and whispered, ‘You are my best friend.’ I once asked Tysha about the homeless shelter she lived in and she began to cry. The little girl looked at me and asked, ‘Are you really going to help us?’ I knew at that moment with absolute certainty that no matter what lies ahead or how weary I may become, the answer will always be, ‘Yes, Tysha, I will help.’”
Benfer reminded the audience, made up of many lawyers, law students and professors, “Dr. King said, ‘[the arc] bends toward justice.’ And President Obama reminds us that ‘here is the thing: it does not bend on its own. It bends because each of us in our own ways put our hand on that arc and we bend it in the direction of justice.’ Together, we are the pressure that ensures the bending of the arc, we lean and push and litigate and organize with the knowledge that the outcome we provoke is unwavering justice.” Benfer continues the work that she started as a student, pursuing justice in Washington, D.C.