CSU Cleveland-Marshall College of Law has established a Student Parent Alliance Scholarship Fund, created to aid in removing barriers for parenting law students that would prevent them from succeeding in law school. This scholarship fund will aid parents wishing to attend law school by providing financial assistance to those in need that will help cover the cost of tuition, books, childcare expenses, or any other expenses related to a parent’s success in law school.
The Student Parent Alliance (SPA) was established at CSU C|M|LAW is 2020 by 3L Jillian Gosser, to aid current parenting students in law school and make law school more accessible for future parenting students. The organization currently has more than 20 student members. SPA wants parenting students of all walks of life to know that they are seen and supported.
“No one should be denied the opportunity to further their education and create a better life for their children because of being a parent,” explained Jillian. “Parents in law school often face undeniable financial struggles, as the set law school student loan budget is not meant to accommodate the support of an entire family or childcare expenses. It is not enough that my amazing support system allows me to go to law school. I want every mom or dad to be able to come to law school and this scholarship is a great first step in that direction.”
The SPA Scholarship Fund grew from a mentorship current 3L SPA President Gianna Colucci developed with Tim Misny ’80 of The Law Offices of Tim Misny. Gianna had faced difficulty obtaining the funds to attend law school and knows several other law student-parents are in the same situation as they deal with the expenses of raising a family. Tim related to Gianna’s struggles, recalling a time during law school when he had his electricity turned off due to his lack of money to pay, and took interest helping Gianna and other determined parents.
“The reason I wanted to get donors together (for this scholarship fund) is so more parents can be sitting in the same seat I currently am and have the same opportunity to attend law school,” Gianna said.
Christine LaSalvia ’03, David Nager ’90 and Misny, all of whom attended CSU C|M|LAW in the evening program, spearheaded the funds creation and generously contributed $10,000 to start the fund. The fund needs to raise at least an additional $15,000 to endow the fund and make it a permanent scholarship.
The trio joined Jillian and Gianna on a recent panel on the “Challenges and Opportunities of Attending Law School as a Parent.” Each of the alumni panelist recalled the challenges they faced in law school and as a working parents, and expressed their excitement at being able to offer support to motivated parents attending law school such as Gianna and Jillian.
“I’m here to help because quite frankly I did not get any help (as a law student),” explained Nager of Nager, Romaine & Schneiberg Co., L.P.A. who raised a young family while attending law school. “Giving is always more satisfying than getting and I’m really happy to offer my support.”
“Christine, Dave, and I don’t just believe in you, we are betting on you,” said Misny, who attended CSU C|M|LAW while working full-time in the Euclid Prosecutor’s office. “These students (who are parents) are going to be superstars because having a family gives you purpose and possessing a ‘whatever it takes’ attitude puts them ahead of everyone else.”
“Sometimes (raising a family) can be a struggle but having that struggle ultimately makes you a better person and a better lawyer,” said LaSalvia of the LaSalvia Law Firm who became a working mother early in her legal career. “Anyone who is a mom feels at times like you are splitting your time so many ways that you are failing. But you are not, you’re succeeding because your kids see how you are a strong person, and they see what it takes to build something successful.”
The recent panel and scholarship fund have received overwhelming praise from the CSU C|M|LAW community and as SPA President, Gianna believes this is just the beginning.
“The amount of messages I have received and am still receiving from both parents and non-parents who are offering their support is unprecedented and overwhelming to say the least,” said Gianna. “So many of my fellow students from all walks of life are so proud of this and want to be a part of this support system we are forming for parenting students!”