CONGRATULATIONS TO J.R. HAMILTON!
Our team at Rizio Lipinsky is thrilled to announce that J.R. Hamilton has won the Rizio Lipinsky Law School Scholarship for 2020. This month, J.R. began his first semester (remotely) at Harvard Law School as an incoming 1L, after becoming the first in his family to graduate from college.
J.R.’S INSPIRING PERSONAL STORY:
J.R.’s essay submission detailed the painful loss of his father 6 years ago from an opiate overdose. As personally tragic as the loss was, J.R. went into incredible detail about how common this experience is for those in his home state of West Virginia, and throughout Appalachia.
“I think it would be hard to find someone who hasn’t lost a family member or friend to this epidemic,” J.R. said.
In his essay, J.R. wrote, “West Virginia is in shambles. Opioids have flooded Appalachia in an unprecedented manner, poisoning the communities that molded my peers and me. Prescription painkillers arrive in droves, like a plague of Biblical proportions.”
To illustrate the point, J.R. alluded to the example of the small West Virginia town of Kermit. “It is a quaint town with a population of around 400. In two years, McKesson Corporation, number five in the Fortune 500, shipped over five million prescription painkillers to a single pharmacy in Kermit. That is around 12,500 pills per resident in two years, and Kermit is certainly not alone.”
However, J.R. had no intention of running from the problem. Instead, he’s already begun the process of trying to solve it. As an undergraduate at West Virginia State University, he volunteered with programs dedicated to helping those addicted, and their families through organizations such as Help4WV and the student organization CHOICES Peer Educators, at WVSU.
At law school, J.R. will join First Class, a student-run inclusive and intersectional organization for first-generation college students and students from low-income backgrounds. Having grown up below the poverty level, as a first-generation college graduate, J.R. says he looks forward to meeting fellow Harvard Law School students who share similar backgrounds.
Upon completion of law school, J.R. plans to return to West Virginia. “A law degree, and the knowledge that comes in attaining it, are the most powerful tools one could possess in the fight against those who manipulate the law while hurting others for a major profit. My intentions following graduation from law school are simple. I will do everything in my power to advocate for and uplift the unfortunate, the downtrodden, and the broken to free themselves from the manipulative chains of those profiting from their misfortune.”
Our team at Rizio Lipinsky extends our sincere congratulations to J.R. and our utmost gratitude to the more than 760 scholarship applicants who submitted essays this year. Reading such powerful, inspiring stories during this unsettling time brought us a great deal of joy.
Let’s hear it for J.R.! Please help us share J.R.’s amazing story of resilience and his dedication to improving the lives of his community.