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    Kopfler & Hermann Overcoming Adversity Scholarship Winners

    At Kopfler & Hermann our firm believes in the importance of persistence and determination even in the face of supposedly insurmountable odds. To support this belief our firm has established the Overcoming Adversity Scholarship to reward one student annually who we believe best exemplifies a commitment to overcoming adversity.

    The following are the list of winners including our most recent 2023 winner Ella Stiso! Please see below to learn a little more about our accomplished winners:

    2023 Winner: Ella Stiso

    I am currently a sophomore at the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa. Born and raised in Wall NJ I have spent most of my life at the Jersey Shore where I stay active in multiple outdoor activities and ocean conservation initiatives. I am also an active member of The Seeing Eye organization where I raise and train guide dogs for the visually impaired. In addition, I participate in multiple extracurricular and community service programs here in Tuscaloosa while maintaining a 4.0 GPA.

    I am currently in the Pre-Law program, majoring in business with a minor in Spanish. Upon graduation, I plan to attend law school. One day I hope to practice as a disability attorney. It is my goal to improve disability legislation and further ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) laws nationwide.

    2022 Winner: Aaminah Bhat

    Aaminah Bhat is a second year law student at the University of California-Berkeley. At Berkeley, Aaminah’s particular interests are in technology, civil liberties, and community justice. She volunteers at the East Bay Community Law Center and the Berkeley Afghanistan Project to support humanitarian parole applications for Afghan nationals seeking resettlement following the Taliban takeover in 2021.

    Before law school, Aaminah worked at Deloitte Consulting within their government and public services sector. She also worked at the New Jersey Office of Higher Education to build equitable access to higher education for low-income and undocumented students and piloted the first free community college program in NJ.

    Aaminah graduated from Yale in 2018 with a B.A. in Global Affairs. On campus she was involved with the Tsai CITY Center, Muslim Students Association, and YIRA. While in New Haven, she co-founded Students of Salaam, a non-profit supporting immigrant & refugee students through mentorship and scholarship. In her free time, Aaminah enjoys perfecting the art of making Neapolitan-style pizza.

    In Her Own Words: “I am grateful to Koplfer & Hermann for investing in my legal education and career. My passion for law stems from commitment to serve the many communities I call home. Thank you for believing in me and my future!”

    2021 Winner: Elizandro Skirvin

    Eli was born in Los Angeles, California, and was placed into foster care at the age of 3 with his dear sister Suzie. Together they lived in foster care for nine years and lived in seven different homes. When Eli was 12 years old, he was adopted and able to get proper medical treatment and was diagnosed with Muscular Dystrophy. Over the years, Eli never let his diagnosis stop him. He has completed Eagle Scout, serviced on a mission to South Carolina, flew to Fiji to build a school, got his first job, and is now attending college.

    About six months ago, Eli underwent a heart transplant, where he waited in the hospital for a month and a half on a heart transplant list. On his 24th birthday, received the news that a new heart was ready for him. In the recovery stages, he has taken on the challenge to go back to school, where he currently studies at Salt Lake Community College in Utah for his bachelor’s degree in Business, with the hope of transferring to the University of Utah in the next year.

    In His Own Words: “Being selected for this scholarship means so much to me. I’m very grateful that others can see potential in me and help me achieve the goals I want in life. Over the past few years, I had to learn how to accept help, which was very humbling for me. Being raised in foster care, I was always in survival mode and never accepted a handout. I felt like I had to prove I could do this on my own. Having the opportunity to accept this scholarship with open arms opens up so many doors for me and gives me that extra motivation to keep going. This scholarship will not only help me financially but mentally. It would alleviate some stress and worry, which my new heart could use. I want to thank Kopfler and Hermann for this wonderful opportunity.”

    2020 Winner: Matthew Hammond

    Matthew Hammond is 32 years old and attending the University of Richmond School of Law in his hometown of Richmond, VA. He hopes to have a career litigating for the underprivileged in civil rights cases and criminal defense, and civil plaintiff litigation. In his free time, he enjoys playing the drums in two different bands and spending time with his dog, a blue heeler named Fox.

    In His Own Words: “I’m super grateful and honored to receive this scholarship! I am paying for a lot of my school myself so it goes a long way. Being recognized in this fashion is super validating given the struggle I went through to get here. I’ll certainly pay it forward. Thank you again!”

    2019 Winner: Racquel Stephens

    Racquel Stephens is a lifelong educator and visionary change agent. She has over 28 years of experience in education, and is pursuing her doctorate degree in Educational Leadership at California State University, Fullerton. She has taught elementary, high school, and at the university level. She is currently the Coordinator of Online Learning for Irvine Unified School District. Her passion in education is to provide flexible options for students who are in need of options to complete their educational path. Racquel has one daughter who also dreams of becoming an educator, and is pursuing a music degree. 

    In Her Own Words: When I first learned I received the Overcoming Adversity Scholarship, for the first time in a long time, I felt hope. Hope that I could overcome the major adversity I have been through in the last year, hope that I could finish my degree, and hope that I could make a difference. Thank you, Kopfler & Hermann for providing this tremendous opportunity for students, in any situation of life, who have overcome adversity to try to improve themselves and their education.” 

    Racquel was also kind enough to send us a postcard.

    2021 Update: Congratulations on graduating! It was great to hear from you:

    2018 Winner: Ahmad Yama Amin

    Ahmad is currently a sophomore in the Honors College at George Mason University where he is dually studying computer science and statistics. His parents are from Afghanistan, however, he was born and raised in America, so he considers himself to have grown up in the midst of two very different cultures. Within Ahmad’s fields of study, he likes to be active in student clubs and events such as hackathons or coding clubs. Aside from that, he’d also like to explore and tackle many new things in life, whether it is traveling, bungee jumping, partaking in triathlons, or playing guitar.

    In His Own Words: “I am writing this message as gratitude for the generous Overcoming Adversity Scholarship I received from the Kopfler & Hermannn Attorneys scholarship committee. I am very honored and appreciative to have been selected out of a large applicant pool as one to receive this much helpful financial aid.

    After having applied for the scholarship earlier in the fall, it completely went past my mind when I checked my voicemail to see I got a voice message from an Attorney’s office, Kopfler & Hermann to be exact. At first, I was confused and worried that there must’ve been a mix-up: “why is an attorneys office calling me”. Surely though, as I kept listening to the message, my confusion faded and my excitement and gratitude spiraled. This all happened during a 5-minute break during one of my classes, so I had to quickly contain the excitement and go back to class before I could share the news with my family.

    It is that excitement and feeling I felt this past week that makes me want to express the importance of the benevolent donations back to the community by firms such as Kopfler & Hermannn Attorneys. Scholarships like these truly do make a difference in the lives of college students such as myself. This can be said independent of the monetary reward, because it is a reward in itself to know that someone, some group of people, or even some firm has listened to my story, respected my challenges, and is invested in my future; a person or committee I haven’t even met personally. And for that, I would like to once again personally thank everyone who listened to my story and has faith in myself, my goals, and future.

    With this generous donation, I am continuing my education on a good note; a continued reminder of hope that there are good, warmhearted, and sympathetic people in this world. I have high hopes that the Attorneys at Kopfler & Hermannn  will continue their outstanding contributions to the community, as it truly does make a difference.”