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The Crowder Law Firm Scholarship Spring 2024 Winner

Elizabeth Bank

Elizabeth’s essay masterfully encapsulates how pursuing the American dream can inspire individuals to be their best, even under challenging circumstances. We believe that Elizabeth will be successful in attaining her degree and whatever challenge life throws at her. We are delighted to provide Elizabeth with helpful financial assistance as she chases her goals.

Elizabeth Bank

Read Elizabeth's Essay:

As a child, I grew up sitting on my po-po’s (grandmother in Cantonese) lap, listening to her paint stories with words about Hong Kong, my ancestors, and most of all, the story of my family’s immigration. It was one of my favorite stories, almost like a fairytale. She raised me to believe that the American Dream meant anyone, regardless of their background, can have the equal opportunity for success.

My gung-gung (grandfather in Cantonese) and his four brothers grew up during World War II, struggling to find safety and basic necessities, living in constant fear of invasion, and grieving from their sisters’ deaths in the war. My great uncle was the eldest of the five brothers, and he was the one who protected my grandfather’s family during wartime, sacrificing his dreams of a greater education for jobs that could support his family, keep them alive when everything around them was falling apart. Post-war, my great uncle worked hard to earn the opportunity to continue his dream of studying what he truly loved, meteorites, in the US. My great uncle was the first to immigrate to the US, leading the way for his four brothers, including my grandfather, to immigrate too. My grandmother’s family disapproved of her marrying and living in a foreign land with little money and no connections, so it was my great uncle who helped my grandfather and grandmother immigrate, guiding them through language barriers, disapproval, and discrimination to pave a new life in the US.

My great uncle passed away this December. His death prompted me to see the American Dream a little differently than before—reflecting on his life, I realized that the American Dream is more than just equal opportunity, but using that opportunity to give brighter futures to others. Even when he became severely disabled after a critical surgery, my great uncle always saw the joy and happiness in life and those around him. He was, and is, someone I greatly look up to. The night my great uncle died was the peak of the annual Geminid meteor showers, the biggest meteor shower of the year. Over 120 visible Geminid meteors per hour rained like shooting stars across the night sky when he passed. My great uncle immigrated to study meteors, and shooting stars were like a symbol of the bright hope he shared with the world. I’m incredibly proud of the resilience in my family’s rich culture and history—an immigration story that I now see not as a fairytale, but as a legacy that I continue to grow. Through sacrifice and perseverance, my great uncle gave me and my family the greatest gift of all—the chance to pursue our own American dreams. My dream is to share the sense of hope for a brighter future my great uncle had in my own passion for environmental and physical sciences.

As a founding member of the first and largest girls Boy Scouts of America (BSA) scouting troop in my community and among the first female BSA Eagle Scouts from my troop, I’ve built my community around leading youth to love nature, exploring the untamed wilderness through High Adventure treks. My favorite treks have been backpacking 38 miles on California’s Trans-Catalina Trail, backpacking 50 miles, summiting at 12,441 feet high in the Rocky Mountains, and canoeing 50 miles in the lakes of the Superior National Forest. I’ve earned several awards in BSA Scouting in addition to the national award of Eagle scout, including the High Adventure Team Award 106-Miler Backpacking Medal and the Backcountry Leadership Award. My love of exploring planet Earth drives my dream of sharing the wonders and science behind this planet with others.

Throughout 2021 and 2022, my Eagle Scout project was designing and leading youth volunteers to create a three-display art exhibit installation at a local nature preserve in my community, Upper Newport Bay Nature Preserve, made 100% from recycled materials. The exhibit educates with visual imagery about how children can preserve the wilderness in their own backyard. With 50 volunteers and 235.5 hours of planning, painting, crafting, and creating, the exhibit was featured in my county’s first "Earth Day at the Bay" festival since the pandemic. It was truly special to share my project with over 1,000 attendees of all ages, spreading awareness about our role as stewards of our planet. I returned to lead volunteers to redesign those three display cases the following year throughout 2022 and 2023. This time, I used natural and recycled materials to tell the story about different water levels and what kinds of organisms, from miniscule bacteria to large birds live in the local environment.

In late 2021 to early 2023 in high school, I also was one of the youngest youth leaders in a city-wide program called City of Irvine’s Cool Block Challenge. The program works towards reducing city carbon-footprints through water conservation, energy efficiency, emergency preparedness, and social justice. My goal in the program was to raise awareness specifically with youth. I recruited classmates, families, and neighbors to work together towards making changes big and small towards more sustainable lifestyles. With creative activities, facilitating community meetings, interactive presentations, and expert guest speakers, I adapted and redesigned the Cool Block content to apply not only to older members of the community, but to also be engaging for high schoolers. Through volunteering in Cool Block, I was able to teach others about the impact the community has on the environment.

This fall was my first quarter as a college freshman at the University of California, Irvine. I continue to build off my previous projects; I will return this year as an official volunteer at the nature preserve, and I am now a part of the Earth Reps program, which volunteers for campus sustainability and works with City of Irvine Cool Block. Academically, I work hard studying chemistry, earning the Deans Honor List for my first quarter, so that I can better understand the physical sciences of the Earth.

I’m just at the beginning of my journey pursuing my American dream. To me, the American dream is absolutely alive because I am a living product of it—standing on the shoulders of my ancestors and family, dead and alive, I honor their legacy by reaching for my American dream. Thank you for this opportunity to continue to share my hope and American dream with my community and the world around me.

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