Monday, July 23, 2012


Did you ever have anyone, a close friend, somebody you just met, a stranger on the street, touch your life so profoundly that they put you on a different path? I would not be an attorney today if it wasn’t for one faithful night eight years ago when I missed my last bus home.  Looking back at my life,  given how some things just seemed to come together for no apparent reason at the right time,  I really have to wonder and perhaps do so against reason if it was just meant to be. Maybe  life is there to help you out when you’re running out of options and puts the people on your path if you just learn to recognize and reach out to them. That’s how I feel about my friend Josh.  He was an undergraduate student at UF on his way home, walking with friends when he saw me sitting at a bus stop thinking I was in trouble. I was a graduate  law student from Poland, six years his senior, just a few weeks into my program. He became concerned and decided to wait with me for a bus that never came. Then he offered to find me a ride home. It was striking to me how open and caring he was at that time. I soon learnt that this is how he was, always surrounded by friends, passionate and involved, trying and searching to be a better person, to be spiritual and self aware. When I moved to America I decided to be as friendly as accepting as I possibly could, sending as much positivity to the world, hoping it came back to me and in that I felt I found a kindred spirit. Josh it seemed had but one goal- to change the world one person at a time and looked for a good vessel to do it. Thanks to me he was able to observe what it’s like to have a disability more closely. To deal with forms of prejudice and discrimination he never knew. That in turn made him even more sensitive to people’s needs and was   one of the factors that contributed to his choice of a career when he decided to be an attorney. Over the years we had countless conversations about life, purpose, inclusion, future and destiny. But it wasn’t until a few years later when he realized that I have Cerebral Palsy and that he could help- and make me helpful and productive as well.  Josh volunteered at a local Conductive Education facility- an Academy for kids with neuromuscular disabilities. He was playing with  and assisting children for months until he put the two and two together. Little did he know that I was very familiar with this method having grown up with it. This is how I met James Klausner. And this is how I’ve learnt his son’s tragic story.  Josh was just one of those young students wanting to help and do something meaningful. I remember how we were sitting in a restaurant in Tampa and I was telling him about my problems with taking the LSAT test. When I was explaining the difficulties of standardized testing  and how stress and time limitations affect me he suggested we have a rally at the law school courtyard after I jokingly referenced a scene from ‘Beverly Hills, 90210’ where an entire school ends up chanting ‘Donna Martin graduates’ in support of a student. That week we printed flyers and met with fraternities. It was a crazy idea and I remember my mom saying:Now you’ll never get in. It wasn’t a big turn out (It didn’t help we planned for the morning after Halloween), and I don’t think I made a lot of friends at the law school back then, but  (after a Iot of footwork) I did get in. Josh also got some of his friends who worked at newspapers interested in my story. My immigration attorney was also a contact of his. In turn, he decided to become a lawyer as well, and help people fight for their rights. He didn’t go to UF but moved to Washington DC for law school. Years later he would  see me take my Oath of attorney for District of Columbia. Over the years  he’s been inspiring me to push further, to reach higher and showing me that hard work can pay off and that people are essentially good. So many things have happened over the last eight years and our lives became intertwined in ways I never imagined. It’s funny to think it was all set in motion in 2004 at 3 am. And we have a common goal.  To educate people with disabilities about their rights, to protect those in need. And we want to help more. On Tuesday Josh will sit for the New York Bar exam. Please keep your fingers crossed. I don’t know anyone who deserves it more. Good luck my friend!

No comments:

Post a Comment