Why Your Gift Matters

This is Michelle Chao’s story.

My husband and I both had great jobs. We were raising our three young children in financially comfortable circumstances. But I had not accomplished my dream of becoming a lawyer. In my 13-year banking career, I had made thousands of dreams come true for others, yet I was unable to fulfill my own.

It ate at my soul every day.

Then, after 10 years of marriage, my husband filed for divorce. For the first time since college, I knew what discomfort meant. That financial strain became more pronounced when I decided this was finally the time to pursue my dream.

There have been many moments of discomfort since and I know there will be more of them while I’m on my journey to becoming a lawyer. Yes, my life as a student and single parent is difficult—but because of donors to the law school, it is not impossible. I am able to continue my studies in large part due to gifts from alumni. Scholarships have helped to make ends meet and given me a path to a life that is more worth living than the one I had before.

And I love every moment of it. I was fascinated by my Complex Litigation and Medical Malpractice seminars. I loved applying what I learned in Employment Discrimination to my externship at the Veterans Administration, and I became a reasonable accommodation expert during my time there. I love that my legal education has already helped me make a difference in the lives of veterans. Today, I am an extern at the Oregon Supreme Court and am amazed that I have this opportunity.

I am teaching my children that we can rebuild our lives into something better than we can imagine right now. I am teaching them that they, too, can dream and aspire to achieve those dreams. They now know that few good things in life come easily; it takes hard work, sacrifice, and support from people who care about us. Given a choice between a lifetime of being comfortable again without accomplishing my dreams, or this moment of discomfort on my journey, I choose this life. I would not have that choice were it not for the commitment of donors to Lewis & Clark Law School. Thank you.