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Raising the Bar

Scholarship Recipients Tell Their Stories

When considering a legal education, many would-be lawyers assume it is out of their financial reach. For these three law students, the kindness of strangers made all the difference.


The Gift: A Debt Burden Lightened
Madeleine Kausel ’22

Growing up in Georgia and Florida, Madeleine Kausel spent summers with her grandmother on the Cape and took occasional trips into Boston, where Madeleine’s mother grew up. Kausel fell in love with the city and knew it was where she wanted to one day live and establish her legal career.

So when she was accepted into BC Law after graduating from McGill University, it was a dream come true.

That first year was academically challenging, as it is for most 1Ls, but Kausel loved every minute of it, thanks to the supportive community of students and faculty. “Everyone is funny, smart, and kind,” she says. “We are competitive but in a healthy way. We build each other up and help each other out.”

During her second year, however, Kausel found herself unable to make tuition ends meet. Her dream was on the brink of shattering.

Thanks to the generosity of others, she was awarded a scholarship that enabled her to continue her studies.

Today, Kausel is thriving in her classes and making a name for herself on the Newton campus. She has published in Boston College Law Review, serves as co-chair of the Board of Student Advisors, is a member of the Latin American Law Students Association, and is a Law School Ambassador, a position in which she answers questions from prospective students  considering BC Law. She is also a teaching assistant in Civil Procedure, Contract Law, and Constitutional Law.

Off-campus, Kausel volunteers at the Boston shelter Women’s Lunch Place and with Project Citizenship, where she aids people filling out citizenship applications. It’s work that’s close to her heart. She remembers helping her Chilean-born father study for his citizenship test, which he passed when Kausel was twelve.

“I am so happy I am able to stay at BC Law to finish my degree. Before the scholarship, I underestimated the emotional burden of student debt,” Kausel admits. “Law school is stressful enough and thinking about the possibility of graduating with hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt is draining. The scholarship I received alleviates that stress so I can concentrate on my studies.”


The Gift: A Chance to Trade Up
Robert Lydon ’22

For decades, the idea of law school wasn’t even a twinkle in Bob Lydon’s eye. “I grew up in a trades house,” he says. “My parents assumed we would all go into the trades.” His brother is a plumber, his sister designs kitchens, and, in 2013, Lydon became an auto technician.

Five years later, Lydon craved something different. So he began taking night classes at the local community college and became first in his family to earn a bachelor’s degree. Now he’s finished his second year at BC Law thanks to scholarship support.

“For me to go back to school threw my family’s trajectory into shambles a little bit,” he laughs.

Lydon admits that he felt he didn’t belong in the beginning of his 1L year. But after discovering the First Generation Professionals student group, things began to fall into place, and he knew he had found his home.

He credits the overall caring community of BC Law for his eventual acclimation into law school life. “The faculty and administrators are incredibly supportive,” he says. “It’s really hard to fail when you reach out to them. They will do anything in their power to help you succeed.” As a 2L, Lydon paid it forward by mentoring 1Ls and served as a teaching assistant in Constitutional Law.

The atmosphere in and out of the classroom also helped him discover the kind of attorney the world needs—and what he aspires to be. “A good lawyer is someone who cares about the position the client is in,” Lydon explains. “And you need to be an active listener. Sometimes you will have to take on the role of a social worker, meaning you need to care and advocate for your clients and have empathy for who they are and where they come from. It’s the only way you can understand and meet their needs.”

Building networking and interviewing skills with assistance from the First Generation Professionals group helped him land a position at Cooley in Boston as a summer associate. He’s excited to see where this opportunity leads. “I never got a job any way other than walking into a place with my resume,” he admits. “I didn’t know anything about networking or interviewing.”

Most of all, he’s grateful for the generosity of strangers who helped him land at the Law School. “I am extremely thankful to the donors who contributed to BC Law so that I could be here. Over the past two years, I’ve given a lot of thought to how different my life would have been if I hadn’t gotten the scholarship,” says Lydon. “One thing is certain: Without it, I wouldn’t be here.”


The Gift: A Bright Future
John-Henry Marley ’21

It was clear from the beginning that John-Henry Marley ’21 was a student with great potential. In his first year at BC Law, he was asked to speak at the 2019 Scholarship Dinner to a roomful of donors and their scholarship recipients. He was not intimidated—or at least he didn’t show it. He was captivating. Today, he is a new graduate ready to begin his career at Morgan Lewis.

Marley didn’t start law school feeling very confident. “As a 1L, I definitely had imposter syndrome,” he admits. “I wondered, ‘Do I belong here?’” Finding resources through the Black Law Students Association and getting support from professors and peers, helped build his confidence. He was also propelled by his self-imposed pressure to succeed, in large part for his family’s sake.

With seven children under their roof, covering household expenses was, at times, challenging for Marley’s parents, who moved their family to Florida from Jamaica for “a more secure life” when Marley was five. Education was seen as a path to financial stability. And lucky for Marley, school came easy. “I was known as the smart kid in the family. I always loved school,” he says.

Then, the 2008 recession deeply affected his family’s finances. So when Marley was graduating from high school in 2010, he felt a responsibility to aim high—really high. “My family lost everything and I needed to be the one to succeed. I had to seize life as I wanted it and go after what I wanted.” His impeccable transcript and personal drive earned him a full scholarship to Stanford University.

Marley returned to Florida after graduating from Stanford in 2014, unsure of what to do next. He didn’t want to languish too long. “I gave myself a time limit: four years to work and figure out what I want to do in life.” Between his job overseeing highway construction and a family issue, he saw the impact attorneys had in the world and in personal matters. It was then he realized that law school was the way to go—and it was an “opportunity to help my family,” he adds.

A scholarship to BC Law opened the door. “To me, that alone communicated that BC Law wanted me to be here. It provided a level of comfort knowing I would not be overburdened with debt,” he says. Summer stipends enabled him to lighten the burden of his family’s medical and household bills.

“The last few years have been life-changing. I am so grateful to my scholarship donors,” Marley says. “Their gift has enabled all of this—this bright future I have ahead of me.”

Marley photograph by Caitlin Cunningham