Success Just Isn’t Victory

As the holidays approach, all of us look around and within ourselves to appreciate all that life has to offer. I also reflect upon the past year to assess how our clinic has impacted people’s lives. Today, those impacts smacked me right between the eyes.

This morning, a student and I met with a couple to change the names of their American-born children so that they could more easily access benefits such as healthcare, education (things we take for granted). He and his wife were refugees that met in a camp in East Africa. He came to the United States, naturalized and sponsored her so that she could come too. He works full-time and goes to school full-time. She goes to school two days a week and also cares for their four children aged 7 and under. What was compelling was the perseverance and hope that this man had while enduring some of the worst genocide in the world’s history taking place in his country of origin. We truly take our freedoms for granted, but he and his family know the meaning of what it means to be free now that they are working hard and living in the United States. What our clinic is doing for them is minimal in the grand scheme of their life, but it allows them the ability to provide for their children and undo the administrative barriers to receiving benefits to which they are entitled.

In the same day, I received an order from Seminole County domesticating a foreign guardianship from Texas. This is a case we have been working on since the summer semester. The father of a terminally ill and permanently disabled Veteran wants to bring his son back to Florida so that he can be close to family when he dies. The father often wept on the phone when we would call to give him updates. Today, we were honored to call him to inform him that the papers were signed and he can now bring his son home.

Somedays I leave stressed, aggravated, frustrated and worried about whether our clinic will achieve all of the tasks to which we have obligated ourselves. Today, I feel joy, pride and a deep sense of satisfaction for my students’ achievement and for the strong foundation of public service upon which the clinic stands.

Happy Holidays to all.

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