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.