Summer 2016

What’s in your backpack?

Cayla Ebert
Photo by Liz Banfield

“My passport,” says Cayla Ebert, a second-year law student at the University of Minnesota. It’s a document with a  lot of emotional charge for Ebert, who last year worked closely with political refugees as a volunteer translator for the Asylum Law Project, an organization that provides free legal assistance to people seeking asylum.

Working as a legal translator reminded Ebert, who is presently at the top of her class, of what drew her to the law in the first place: its power to help others. “There are a lot of problems in the world, but there are also a lot of solutions,” says Ebert. “I believe the law is the best way—the most just and fair way—to get to those solutions and change lives.”

Because participation in the Asylum Law Project involves travel and other expenses, Ebert says scholarship support enabled her to participate in the program. “I can pursue this kind of opportunity because I am not so burdened by debt,” she says.

Ebert says scholarships also allowed her to base her summer employment decision on the type of work she wanted to do, not just on the salary. She accepted a summer-long government job at the Hennepin County Attorney’s Office, which gives her experience in litigation and exposure to a variety of practice areas.

“How your government looks at things makes a big difference,” she says. “It affects people and societies so much.”