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.


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  • Wow, I have never met anyone with as much drive as you. I know that you are an inspiration for anyone that has ever been told that they are too young for big dreams. You just made feel like all of my dream and goals are accomplishable as long as I work hard and do not let the odds beat me down. Thank you for sharing your story, and I know that you will change a lot of lives now and in the future.

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

  • 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!

  • 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!

  • 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!

  • 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

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.