Wendy Aluoch, a third-year law student at GW, has a seemingly simple goal: to make a difference.
As an anthropology major in college, Wendy was fascinated with the interaction between cultures and institutions and the resulting marginalization of peoples. Originally from Kenya, she noticed many of her classes focused on development in Latin American and Asian counties with little discussion of Africa. She decided then that she wouldn’t forget about her homeland, but she knew it wasn’t enough to just study and analyze: she wanted to enact change.
“As cliché as it may sound, I want to make a difference in the lives of those being oppressed or on the fringes of their society,” she explains. “Even though the law gives certain protections, many do not know this or they remain quiet because they feel they can’t do anything about it.”
Wendy decided to attend law school to study international law and trade with the goal of becoming a human rights advocate.
She knew she wanted to be in Washington, D.C., “where the law is made and where all the action happens,” she says. “I knew GW would provide me with countless opportunities to meet, hear, and learn from some of the most notable people in the legal field.”
Not only did she gain admittance into her top choice school, but when she arrived on campus in 2013, she also received more good news: she was named the first Class of 2011 Scholar. The Law School Class of 2011 Scholarship, established in 2013 by members of the Class of 2011 and an anonymous donor in honor of the class’s graduation, provides financial support for law students just like Wendy. Her award was also renewed for her 2nd year.
“I was very happy, appreciative, and honored to learn that I was selected to receive this scholarship,” she says. “The generosity of those donors has allowed me the opportunity to learn at one of the best institutions in the country.”
While a typical day for Wendy involves a lot of reading and studying (“and trying to not be called on in class,” she jokes), her sights remain always on her goal: “The most important thing is to not forget that life goes on beyond the law school walls,” she says. “Law school is what you make of it.”
Receiving the scholarship has allowed Wendy to take on more than just her academic responsibilities: she’s a student representative for Kaplan Bar Review, a volunteer for organizations like the Homeless Pro Bono Project Legal Clinic, and an active member of various clubs, including the Human Rights Law Society, an experience she says has helped expand her knowledge in the human rights area.
Wendy also served as a student attorney for the GW Law International Human Rights Clinic this past spring and a law clerk for the DC Housing Authority Office of General Counsel this summer.
Thanks to the support from those that learned the law in the same classrooms only a few years before her, Wendy will be able to spend less time paying back debt and more time focusing on what she came to law school to pursue: “working for the public good,” she says.
“I believe that in getting my JD, I am equipping myself with one of the most useful tools: knowledge,” Wendy says. “There is power in knowing what the law entails and knowing how to apply it.”