Thursday, November 12, 2009

Say what?

Last night I had the honor of being a student speaker at the Wash U Scholars in Law Banquet. While I was incredibly honored to be asked, I was extremely nervous. Seriously, the law school Sarah is a complete chicken. Despite my "chicken-ness" I agreed and am so glad that I did. It was an incredible chance to get into the spirit of the season. I have so much to be thankful for, the receipt of my scholarship being one of my many blessings.

Here is what I had to say:

Thank you all for being here tonight. I have admit, I am normally not a front row girl. In fact, I have spent the last few years banishing bright colors from my wardrobe attempting to remain discrete as to not hear “Miss Heek….Heekey…..Hake….” and then have to speak in front of a big group of people. But for tonight, I have freed the orange. (for the record, I was wearing an orange scarf) Oh, and for the record, its Heeke.

My path to law school was not the one I imagined for myself. In fact, if you had asked the me 10-years ago to write out a life plan, the course I have taken would not have even been on my radar. I dreamed of something exciting and glamorous. But after high school, instead of instead picking out items to decorate a dorm room, I was buying items to decorate a nursery. At 18, I was a mom.

Suddenly my dreams had changed and my focus became on how to best meet the needs of my new family. For my husband and I, plans moved from deciding where we wanted to be in 10 years to how to just get through the day we were in. But each day got easier. And each day, dreams got bigger. And before I knew it I was in a whirlwind of LSAT scores, acceptances and scholarship offers. Beyond simply my school needs, there were so many factors to consider. What environment would be the most conducive to our growing family? Where would our daughter start kindergarten? Where would my husband be able to find a job? Could we afford the housing? Then came the offer that made our decision clear. It was the scholarship that said, “We believe in you.” And what’s more, we will continue to believe in you for the next three years, no strings attached. What it said to me was that Washington University school of law and its alumni understood the reality that life, and more specifically, law school doesn’t occur in a vacuum and that numbers, while important, aren’t the only measure of success. The spirit and the character that that offer encompassed made what I thought was to be a tough decision, incredibly clear. We packed up our family and we moved to St Louis. And although the journey to here has been far from glamorous, the possibilities that lay before me now are beyond what I might have once imagined.

I have no magic formula and I don’t wear a cape. The key to doing it all is knowing that I am never doing it alone. In large ways and smalls, directly and indirectly, everyone make an impact. From providing me with a room here so I could bring my newborn to school during first year finals, to all of you, who have selflessly donated money towards guaranteed scholarships that for me have added some much needed stability to my organized chaos. When I graduate this May, I know that I certainly will not have done it alone. I am just wondering how they will get the names of those who have gotten me here to fit on my diploma. And although like many of my classmate, I don’t know where or what I will be doing after graduation, we look forward to the day when we are able to take what we have learned from your great gifts and pay it forward. So thank you.

A thank you from me just would not suffice because the reach of your generosity extends far beyond that. St Louis thanks you for enticing bright minds and diverse people to call St Louis home, whether it is just for 3 years or forever. Washington University thanks you for allowing them to go from "streetcar college," it once called itself to rivaling Ivy League institutions, attracting outstanding students and nationally recognized faculty. My classmates thank you for supporting them and enstilling in them the concept of selflessness. My two beautiful girls thank you for allowing my husband and I to direct our efforts at saving money to pay for their college instead of worrying about if we will ever be able to pay off mine. And I thank you—for believing in me. For helping me. For making my dreams my everyday life.

Despite the drama surrounding the day prior to speech, I am so glad that I was able to stand up and give my honest reflection on one of the many ways I have been blessed. After I had finished speaking, I was approached by one of the donors, who with tears in his eyes (I swear!), told me that I had touched him deeply with what I had to say and that it made him want to reach into his pocket and give even more.

Mission accomplished?


  1. Mission accomplished. Good work! I think you most definitely delivered.

  2. Umm, mission super accomplished since you actually made Greenfield cry, a feat previously thought to be impossible. Seriously, awesome speech.