Triumph Over Adversity Scholarship Winners

The team at The Khaki Law Firm believes in supporting the dreams of others and admires the adversity students overcome to achieve their goals. Each year we offer our Triumph Over Adversity Scholarship to award one student with a $1,000 scholarship award to help contribute to their education. Below are our past scholarship winners:

2022 Winner: Nicole Palmer

Biography: “I am an undergraduate student at the University of Minnesota, Morris, with bachelor’s degrees in Psychology, Human Services, and Disability Issues & Advocacy. I live in Southcentral Minnesota, while pursuing an online Master’s in Nonprofit Leadership and Management from Metropolitan State University, St. Paul, Minnesota. I enjoy being crafty/creative, volunteering, and playing with my service dog.

At the age of four, I was diagnosed with Marfan Syndrome which is a connective tissue disorder that affects my entire body: heart, eyes, lungs, muscles, and more. As part of my Marfan Syndrome, I have a low-vision disability and chronic pain. I also have undergone five surgeries, four surgeries in the last six years, and developed PTSD and anxiety. In an ableist society that expects people to fit into a world designed for people without disabilities, I have been shaped by my own disability and my experiences to work passionately to remove barriers and to create a more accessible environment and just society for all people. I am committed to issues of equity, diversity, ethical leadership, community engagement, and social justice. I have learned it is important to take every experience, especially the hard experiences, and build myself up. I believe it is crucial to not view these challenges as immovable barriers, but to view them as opportunities. Opportunities to grow in understanding, to develop respect for others, to create change, and to form connections that build stronger communities.”

In Nicole’s Own Words: “I am so humbled and honored to receive The Khaki Law Firm’s 2022 Triumph Over Adversity Scholarship that it is hard to eloquently put into words its meaning. I took this summer off from graduate courses because I had to undergo a major specialty surgery at the Mayo in Phoenix, Arizona. I look forward to being able to continue my studies in Fall 2022 because of The Khaki Law Firm’s generosity. As a 28-year-old with a chronic health condition, trying to balance health with education has always been a challenge. However, through everything, education has always been an important goal for me to fight to attain. This is because I believe education empowers and equips us with the tools and experiences we need to help create a better world. This scholarship will allow me to continue to pursue the higher education required to achieve a leadership career in the nonprofit sector. Overall, I understand that as a leader it is my responsibility to use my experience and education to be an ally and advocate for other people, including people of color, elders, people who identify as LGBTQ, people with disabilities, and others who might be on the margins of society. Thank you for providing me with the financial support to help make my dreams to better our community into a reality.”

2021 Winner: Asia Whitaker

Biography: Asia is an 18-year-old from Highland, Utah, and she was born with a hereditary moderate hearing loss. She wears hearing aids, and loves Deaf culture and American Sign Language. She views her hearing loss as a gift that has broadened her scope of communication and connection. She graduated magna cum laude from American Fork High School in 2021. She is currently attending Brigham Young University, pursuing a degree in Art Education. She loves to use her hands to create, connect, and serve. Asia plans to combine her love for communication and the arts by becoming an art therapist, art educator, and/or an ASL interpreter. Through these roles, she will empower others to better understand, love, and respect each other, as well as themselves.

In Her Own Words: “I am overjoyed and so honored to be the winner of this year’s Triumph Over Adversity Scholarship. When someone has a disability, it doesn’t mean they are incapable of being great. Rather, being hard of hearing has led to some of the greatest experiences in my life. I am so grateful for the Khaki Law Firm for recognizing, understanding, and addressing the needs of disabled individuals throughout the nation, and especially for helping students in need. Receiving the Triumph Over Adversity Scholarship will help me continue to rise above the challenges of a disability, and to receive an education to better equip me to help others as well. I thank the Khaki Law Firm with sincere gratitude – someday, I hope to be able to help future students the way The Khaki Law Firm has helped me.”

2020 Winner: Kurt Scheeler

Biography: Kurt Scheeler’s decision to return to school at his age is driven by his experience battling his son’s cancer. His son fought like a champion for nearly two years and won his first battle with cancer. They lost him at the age of four when a second, unique cancer developed and took his life unexpectedly.

From this tragedy, a mission evolved which guides Scheeler’s path and fuels his passion; “In memory of our 4-year-old son, I will become the best pediatric cardiac ultrasonographer I can be able to help children achieve their best health.”

Originally from Minnesota, Scheeler’s wife and surviving 2-year-old son, now live in California. He has been accepted into Loma Linda University’s sonography program. Here he will acquire the skills he needs to use ultrasound technologies to assist cardiologists in diagnosing heart issues in adults and children. He will spend the second half of his life honoring his departed son by helping other children achieve their best health. This is a pursuit and direction he is thankful to have.

In His Own Words: “It is hard to express the gratitude I feel for being chosen for the Triumph over Adversity Scholarship. My pursuit to help children and their families overcome medical adversities is deeply meaningful to me, as it is rooted in the loss of our 4-year-old son to cancer.

Knowing the Khaki Law Firm supports not only my goal of becoming a pediatric cardiac ultrasonographer but is also contributing to making the world a better place through their scholarship fills my heart with appreciation.

The spirit of generosity is powerful and has the ability to change not only my life but also the lives impacted by the education I receive. It is my intent to have the broadest impact possible on children’s health. Being awarded the Triumph Over Adversity scholarship is a critical and meaningful step toward helping me accomplish this goal. The Khaki Law Firm has my deepest thanks and appreciation.”

2019 Winner: Nina Bakoyiannis

Biography: Congratulations to Nina Bakoyiannis, our 2019 Triumph Over Adversity Scholarship winner! Nina is a 24-year-old Greek American, originally from Queens in New York City. She graduated from Queens College in 2017, summa cum laude, with Bachelor of Arts degrees in Psychology and English. She is currently pursuing her doctorate in Clinical Psychology from Long Island University Brooklyn. Her academic goals include contributing to psychodynamic literature on the psychosocial effects of growing up with a physical congenital disability, while working clinically with disabled populations.

In Her Own Words: “I’m so excited and honored to be receiving this year’s Triumph Over Adversity Scholarship! The disabled experience is something I am so grateful for, but that’s not to say it doesn’t come with difficulties. We have definitely come a long way in the disability rights movement, but there is so much more to do. Having our experiences heard, appreciated, and shared is such an important step toward this goal, and I’m so grateful to Khaki Law Firm for helping us pave the way. The degree that I’m receiving will allow me to help our society make concrete changes to the ways in which we conceptualize the disabled experience and treat clients with disabilities, and this scholarship contributes profoundly to my goal. I’m so grateful to this firm’s commitment to serving the disabled community, something that also brings us a step closer to equality.”



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