Two students were selected for the prestigious Carol and Paul Miller Endowed Scholarship: Walter Atencio RLAW '22 and Andrew Da Silva RLAW '23. Walter is a 2019 graduate of Rutgers University–New Brunswick and a current student at Rutgers Law. Andrew is a licensed clinical social worker in New York who received his Master’s from NYU and his Bachelor’s from Rutgers University–Newark.
Walter is a rising 2L at Rutgers Law and is the first in his family to attend college. During his first year at law school, one of his sisters passed away after battling an autoimmune disease. His experiences with his family have helped him mature over the course of his career as a student.
His interest in Rutgers Law came from his discovery of Newark’s history. “Coming from a disadvantaged background, it immediately grabbed my attention when I was told about how the Newark uprisings led to the formation of a program that recognized the need to help out those like myself ‘make it’ in a field that was nowhere near as diverse as it is today.
What has made him feel most at home at Rutgers was participating in the Minority Student Program. “Learning about how the MSP was dedicated to helping students from backgrounds similar to mine, I knew that I would feel more at home at Rutgers then I would anywhere else.”
As a Latino American, Walter hopes that his future in law can give back to the Hispanic community. Since his parents emigrated from Costa Rica and El Salvador, he is intimately familiar with the many struggles Central Americans face and looks forward to helping others who have immigrated to the US.
Walter is keeping an open mind as he continues his law school career. “After going through my 1L year, I realized I shouldn't be pressuring myself to focus on just one field immediately, but rather take the opportunity to really explore all different options.”
Andrew is a native of Essex County, having spent his childhood just a short walk from Branch Brook Park, and his family has roots in Rutgers as his late father was both an alumnus and staff member of Rutgers University–Newark. As a social worker, he developed a deep empathy for the families he worked with while observing the systemic causes for much of the suffering he witnessed.
His decision to attend Rutgers Law was based on his observation that the school was “best equipped to prepare me for my ultimate goal of participating in work that actively seeks to empower and enhance the lives of vulnerable individuals and groups.”
“As a social worker for the past eight years, I have specialized in work with children and families, and I was very excited to see the multiple clinical opportunities to work with a population that I've grown very passionate about.”
Following law school, Andrew hopes to work as a public defender.