By Amanda Hayes
There is the expected, and there is the unexpected. Buying expensive textbooks when I went back to school to pursue my teaching certification – expected. My wife’s post-surgical complications and subsequent disability – unexpected.
Of course I was thrilled to receive the inaugural Frankel-Adair Scholarship last year. Some of the award’s effects were expected: my parents kvelled (kvell, v.: to go on and on about how wonderful someone is, usually one’s child). I placed excited phone calls to thank my recommenders. I ceased advertising myself as a tutor, and while I continued to work with just a couple of students, this allowed me to focus on my studies and be helpful to my wife. I added the honor to my resume.
But it is the unexpected benefits of this scholarship which have had the greatest impact on me.
When I visited the ACLU offices in Philadelphia, I was given a tour and introduced to most of the staff. I can’t help but smile remembering how excited a few of them were to meet me. Little old me!
I was invited to attend the ACLU-PA’s Bill of Rights Dinner. I was a scholarship recipient rubbing elbows with big donors, feeling a little out of my league. But the folks I’d met on my office visit – two months previous – were thrilled to see me. I was greeted with hugs – hugs! – like an old friend. At some point, my name was announced, I saw my picture appear on the projection screen, and I stood to blush at a round of applause.
The night’s honorees blew me away. I saw awards presented to the law firms that had protected voter rights (Arnold & Porter, LLP) and secured PA marriage equality (Hangley Aronchick Segal Pudlin & Schiller). I admired the courage of the student editorial board of Neshaminy High School, who faced school sanctions for refusing to print the word “Redskins,” and of the clients in the Whitewood v. Wolf case, which made my marriage (among others) legal in the Keystone State. I heard Ben Wizner’s brilliant address about technology and privacy. (I also ate some delicious food.)
The event took place on a school night, and though I had fieldwork to do the following morning, I stayed until the very end, soaking up every bit of the experience. As I wove through empty tables and chairs, I was stopped by a woman who congratulated me. Unbelievably, it was Deb Whitewood – yes, that Deb Whitewood, as in Whitewood v. Wolf. Talk about the unexpected! She called over her daughter Abbey and we chatted, and the whole time I was too star-struck to thank or congratulate The Deb Whitewood. (Deb and Susan Whitewood, if you’re reading this, thank you!!!)
When the ACLU-PA honored me with the Frankel-Adair Scholarship, suddenly I became not only a member of the ACLU family, but someone that others within this amazing group would be excited to meet. My immense pride to be associated with the ACLU – expected. The ACLU’s apparent pride to be associated with me – unexpectedly wonderful.
Applications for the Frankel-Adair Scholarship for the 2015-16 school year will be accepted from February 1, 2015, until April 30, 2015. All application materials must be received by 5:00 p.m. on April 30, 2015. Late or incomplete applications will not be considered.