At the Law Firm of Kass & Moses, we value the importance of giving back to society. To this end, one of the ways we fulfill our commitment is by regularly awarding a scholarship to deserving candidates. We take immense pleasure in announcing the name of our most recent scholarship recipient, who has impressed us with their exceptional academic achievements and dedication towards their community.
Our Defense from Injustice scholarship winner is Kourtney Hicks. Here is Kourtney’s submission:
In my junior year of high school, I was diagnosed with Clival Chordoma cancer. When adults would ask me, “what do you want to be when you are older?” I have always had a picture-perfect happy ending for myself: going to college, having a stable job, finding my soulmate, growing old together, and having a loving family. As the steps of childhood trailed behind me, the vision of this life was close, realistic. Just as I was about to cross the line into adulthood, the path severed astray. Astray from the life that I was en route for. Astray from the paths my peers were walking down, and from achieving the things I wanted. Clival Chordoma cancer is a bone cancer in the base of the skull; it is primarily found in middle-aged adults, I was 16 when I was diagnosed. It had been eating away at my skull and taking up space inside of my head for upwards of ten years. I had gone my entire life without realizing I had a 0.8 in a million type of cancer. By the time of my surgery in February 2022, it had grown to be larger than a softball.
I think the worst part about having cancer is nobody could tell me it’s going to be okay. Nobody could tell me anything was guaranteed: graduation, college, growing old; my future was taken away from me. No matter how hard I was gripping onto it, the grains of it slipped out of my hand and blew away. Along with the extraction of my future, my present was taken away from me. I was immediately pulled out of school for an online course, I could not participate in my last season of club and high school volleyball, and for 7 months, the only places I really spent time in were my bedroom and the hospital. In these moments, it felt like my life wasn’t mine anymore. I was no longer living for the purpose of pleasure or entertainment. I could see my friends on their paths, being worried about grades, college, and boys: the normal teenage things. On my desolate path, I was worried about staying alive.
I had to grow up at an exceptionally fast rate. Facing death changed my perception of life. People are criminally mortal. Life is fragile and can be taken away just as easily as it is given. Death does not discriminate. It is everywhere, all of the time; people’s lives end. No more rainy days enjoying a book, no more stressing over grades, just endless nothing. Every experience and every opportunity was something that I was lucky to have, grateful to have, because it was something. I was now praying for just more. More experiences, more embarrassing stories to tell, more laughing with my friends, more of anything. More was something indefinite, but it was the fact I had the opportunity to have an experience, to have more, to be alive right now.
My life became something worth fighting for, whether I wanted it to or not. I had to fight. I had to keep going to have more embarrassing stories to tell, more rainy days enjoying a book, I had more steps I had to walk, needed to walk. My path is cold, desolate, and sorrowful, but I have put one foot in front of the other; I have no choice. I am not dragging my feet with my head down, I am fighting. Fighting for my present and my future with the hope in my heart for more!