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Studying Law to Give Children a Chance to Voice their Opinions before Judges

As a little girl, I saw my world shatter when my parents divorced. Soon after, the news became worse: I wasn’t able to give my opinion regarding whom I should live with, when I could see each parent, or who would have control over me. Even though my father was an angry and bitter man who despised having to see me and did not love me, I was never able to tell this to a judge. The custody decision was made without my consent because I was considered too young to have a valid opinion. The law focused on the comfort of my parents, not on me.

I grew up angry about how I was treated by the law—I felt like I didn’t matter because of my age. I knew I wanted to work with children’s rights under the law when I grew up, but at that point, I still had many years left in school. Yet I was smart and worked very hard, so I decided to skip some grades in school and graduate faster. I was able to complete all three years of middle school in one year, so I entered high school at age eleven. Then I felt that high school and college were extremely similar and repetitive, so when I was eleven, I walked into my principal’s office and requested to attend college the following year.

I had to meet with city officials, district officials, board members, college board members, faculty, and every authority imaginable. They questioned my maturity, my discipline, and my ability to remain safe on a college campus. All these people listened to my thoughts, my intelligence, and my determination, and I was able to convince them all that I could handle it. I became the youngest person to attend—and then graduate—college in my city.

I never allowed my age to get in the way of my dreams, and I still don’t. I began working at Chili’s Grill & Bar on my sixteenth birthday (the youngest age you can legally work there). I was immediately promoted to a training position and then to quality assurance specialist in the kitchen. Even now that I am almost eighteen, I am still the youngest employee there.

I hope to graduate from law school in three years (when I am twenty) and shortly after begin working as a child advocate. I want to give kids a chance to express their opinions before a judge. Because my experience as a kid shaped my life, I want other kids in situations similar to mine to have a voice. Age is a matter of biology, not maturity, and I will work every day so the law sees it this way, too.

We are proud to announce Kyndal Murphy is one of the current DiversityJobs Scholarship finalists. Vote for her essay (Facebook and other social media sharing options in left column) and/or leave comments of support to help us with the selection process.

59 comments

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  • Kyndal is a very hard working individual, who puts school, work and her beliefs in front. She has strived for greatness at such a young age and Has succeeded thus far. She will be an awesome children’s advocate one day!

  • Very impressive. She is the kind of young lady who will go far and be successful no matter what she plans to do in her future. Her mission is a worthy one.

  • Kyndal, such a bright woman. Her life has been no breeze, and she continues to work hard at everything she does. Whether its work, school or friends she is brilliant at everything. A part that she is missing in this essay is that at sixteen she graduated college before high school. She was on the news for her brilliant, ingenious mind, and blows us all away with the rare way she thinks. The integrity and work ethic that this girl exudes is amazing. At one point in my knowing her she told me she reads over 200 books a year. She is most deserving of this award and will use it in her fight to become the best person she can be, whether it is a judge advocating for children’s rights or a lawyer doing the same. We can all learn something from Kyndal.

  • There are many, many kids who have been disregarded by the legal system. I love this quote, “The law focused on the comfort of my parents, not on me.” I know you are going to go out there and do many good things that will positively affect their lives.

  • I love your determination and fighting spirit. Your essay shows what an amazing advocate and voice you will be for kids! Good job!

  • Fantastic essay and such a worthy cause! Kyndal is an absolutely amazing young woman who is very deserving of this scholarship!

  • Kyndal is a very intelligent young women. I met her at Chili’s about 2 years ago. When works hard and is always inspiring someone everyday. She is very strong minded and always pushes herself to do better.

  • Kyndal is one of the strongest and smartest peoole I have ever met. She works hard at her job, and strives to get better. She is diligent and hardworking and I think she will be a great advocate and she deserves a little break of good luck.

  • Kyndal, this essay is well-written. Your life and experiences growing up are a perfect metaphor for the career you are pursuing! Your trials and triumphs in your own life make you the perfect person for the job, and a perfect candidate for the scholarship! Good luck!

  • This essay is well-written. Kyndal, your life and experiences growing up are a perfect metaphor for the career you’re choosing. Your trials and triumphs growing up make you the perfect candidate for children’s advocacy, and for this scholarship! Best of luck!

  • Beautiful! What a great and talented young woman. I look forward to seeing the rest of your life come around.

  • What a wonderful story! I love her determination and the desire to help children. I’ve known Kyndal for many years and followed all of her accomplishments, she is an amazing young lady and great role model for many!

  • To be in the situation where you see your parents fight and eventually divorce is devastating and struggling for young teens and smaller children. As a child of parents currently getting divorced it is hard and sad but I am so glad that I was at age to have a CLR that would represent me and my voice. I am lucky compared to the many children who do not have their own voice. Knowing that Kyndal is fighting for children’s voices and opinions for the law gives me hope that many friends and family memebers can cooperate and function properly. Wishing her the best of luck in the future and to receive her scholarship.

  • Very bright, talented young lady who has proven her dedication and love for both children and the law time and time again. She deserves this scholarship!

  • This young lady interned at a law office last year while still working at Chilis. She has been a positive influence and great friend to my granddaughter. Kendal travels to all parts of the world. A remarkable woman who has great motivation. Kind and gentle young lady. A bright ray of sunshine in a time when young adults seem to be lost. She inspires others to achieve.

  • I have watched Kyndal grow up and mature into the young lady that she is today. Her passion and determination in life are what drives her to excel in all that she does. I have no doubt that those traits will carry over into her life goals of advocating for children and making it her mission to give children a voice in such matters.

  • Getting the opportunity to meet and know Kyndal so deeply has had such an amazing impact on my life. She sets an amazing example for students and employees/co-workers and is an amazing supportive friend. I know all to well why this is so important and am so proud of Kyndal for making this an important topic. I know she’ll make this a reality because she not only cares but has the determination and mind set to do it.

  • Your story about your father breaks my heart. I’m glad that you want to advocate for children. It’s is a very important goal in our broken society.

  • I have watched Kyndal grow into such a beautiful young woman, both inside and out. She is determined, highly motivated, and I have full confidence that she will continue to be so while reaching her goal. I know that Kyndal will be as strong of an advocate for other young people as she has been for herself. Your essay is so well written and I can feel the emotion in your words. Congratulations on all you have accomplished so far… I am excited to see where all of your efforts take you.

  • Wow! This is such a good essay. Kyndal, you have overcome so much and have continued to excel and shine through it all. You will help so many with your intelligence, passion, and drive, Their voices will be heard.

  • Kyndal, I hope you revive this award for your postive attitude and forward thinking. You have taken your childhood trama, and turned it into a wonderful way to help others. God bless you, I hope you are always this loving and caring of others.

  • I have been a part of Kyndal’s family for about 10 years. I have watched her grow from a youngster, playing hide ‘n seek to a young woman filled with determination to make a difference in the world of children caught in the crossfire of divorce. She has lived the part and knows how it feels and is focused on bringing about change. I support her in the role she has chosen and have great confidence that she will succeed.

  • Kyndal is a proven success even at her youthful age. There is absolutely every reason in the world to confidently know her success will continue in the future. As a professional counselor, I meet many clients whose divorced parents decide parenting time without regard to the children’s wishes. This causes emotional distress which can sometimes be catastrophic. Kyndal has the mission in her heart to give these children a voice. She is committed to her core for this cause. Please help her with this scholarship.

  • Kendal, this is an amazing story. I have been reading about your journey (though your moms FB) and I think you are incredible! You deserve this scholarship!

  • Being that the same thing happened to me, I fully support Kyndal’s mission to improve the process of helping kids’ voices and opinions be heard when it comes to divorces. Besides working at Chili’s, Kyndal has had a paid internship at a local law office in order to gain even more knowledge and experience for law school. She is very dedicated and driven to achieve her dreams. I know this scholarship would be very beneficial for her. Good luck, Kyndal!

  • Kyndal is a very hard working and determined individual. She will have a bright and successful future. I believe she will make a great child advocate.

  • We’ve experienced a similar struggle with my daughter and agree the process needs to change. Someone who has had experience as a child in the current system and has the strength and courage to advocate for this change would be an ideal candidate to initiate it!

  • Such heart and commitment to her life long driving passion to be a voice for children is very evident in this essay! She is such an amazingly accomplished young woman for her age and looking forward to hearing what she will be able to achieve in the legal field! She is very deserving of this scholarship!

  • Loved the part about the law worrying about parents comfort, not yours. Very mature way of viewing things. Awesome job!

  • Great Essay Kendal!!! You are an amazing young lady! My kids were in the same situation, it is very sad that the courts/judge won’t let kids voice their opinions, I feel if this would happen it helps these kids so much and save them from so much heartache.

  • Great job. You will go very far in life and I know you will because you have one of the greatest Grandparents looking down over you!!!

  • Kyndal, your story is inspiring, and I can relate to feeling voiceless in a situation where two parents are fighting to see you. Young children are often the only ones who can understand what they’ve been through and the relationship they have with either parent. It is so important for youth to have a voice in a society where they are often ruled out of decision making. Keep using your voice to make a difference!

  • Kyndal has worked for our law office as an intern – she is amazing and so smart – I know that Kyndal will achieve anything her heart desires. She is a strong young woman!!!

  • Such an amazing story! You are such a dedicated and motivated person with such a warm heart. I hope you win this, you deserve it!!

  • Someone this inspirational with the ability to enact real change at an important level deserves all of the support, financial and otherwise, that she can get.

  • Kyndal has shown her dedication by being a hard working student and employee. I know you will go far in all you do. Many kids will benefit from having an advocate like you.

  • Kyndal is an amazing young woman who knows what she is meant to do with her life. She will make a difference for children and future law decisions.

  • I am quite impressed! What an amazing young woman. I truly believe you will do more amazing things in your life and the lives of many others. God bless you and continue to guide and support you and your drive to do incredible things in the lives of children.

  • Kyndal is such a kind and understanding young woman with ambitions that can rarely be seen or experienced by many individuals. She, of all people, deserves any scholarship put before her, as she has worked her entire school career to come out on top. Not only is she talented in the area of schooling, but I have had the pleasure of being a part of numerous musicals with her. All in all, Kyndal is worthy of this scholarship, as she will somehow affect the world positively.

  • This is an excellent goal. There are many instances where we need children’s voices yet we ignore them because we believe the adults know best.

  • Kyndal’s story of overcoming challenges with education and family adversity is encouraging. And the fact that she is using that knowledge to strive for a law degree is exciting! Kyndal is one of the most confident and optimistic students I have met and I wish her the best of luck.

  • This is a sad and common story. Children need to be heard. They are human and suffer when ignored. THis young woman deserves the support of this scholarship. She will make the world a better place for those who are ignored and marginalized.

  • I applaud Kyndal for taking the challenges she has faced in life and is using them to motivate her to help others, rather than letting those events define her in a negative way, She has shown that she works very hard at what she sets her mind to, and I love that she is using this energy to help provide a voice to those who have been silenced.

  • This is an amazing article. I’ve always thought about the voices of children in legal issues. It should be a part of the conversation in abusive parent situations where the goal is to reunite children with parents. I’ve never felt that the children have had a true voice. I’m so impressed with Kyndal. So brilliant! She’s a role model for my 12 year old daughter.

  • My heart is touched by your words and yet your world was forever changed by what you went through as a child. God can turn beauty from ashes, and you Kendal, amaze me at the determination, dedication and desires you have. Keep on the fight and finding a voice for kids. This essay was very well written and moving. It has motivated me to want to make a difference as well. I highly recommend Kendal to be chosen as a scholarship recipient.

  • What a wonderful and accurate perspective from “a child” that truly knows the detriment of so many situations similar to hers. Her difficult experience has shaped and molded Kyndal to be an advocate for children’s rights in the legal system. My hope is that other children in the future will have a voice for their needs and wants in the legal system and divorce situations. Thank you Kyndal for your wisdom and determination. Barb Ottino

  • I love this I can relate having to spend every other weekend and 8 weeks out of the summer with a verbally and physically abusive father.
    Beautifully written!

  • Kyndal is a very strong willed,self driven, smart young woman! She has accomplished so much especially for being so young! I believe she is very deserving of this scholarship because she has worked very hard to get to where she is! Good Luck!

  • Great job on your essay Kyndal! I hope you receive this scholarship, you deserve it for sure! Hopefully your dreams will come true and you can fight for the children that are not allowed to have their own voice yet and end up living a miserable life! I wish you the best!

  • What a great story. Kyndal definitely deserves this DiversityJobs Scholarship! Age is just a number, the sky is the limit.

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