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Misty Nichols

3335

Bold Points

1x

Nominee

2x

Finalist

Bio

I want to be the advocate, and listener for others that I wanted as a kid. I am going into the law because I have just enough faith in people to know we can do better and give more to each other. I will fight for the dignity, value, and safety of the forgotten, because I can and should.

Education

University of Oregon

Doctoral degree program (PhD, MD, JD, etc.)
2021 - 2024
  • Majors:
    • American/U.S. Law/Legal Studies/Jurisprudence

Portland State University

Bachelor's degree program
2015 - 2019
  • Majors:
    • Social Work, Other

Cleveland High School

High School
2004 - 2006

Miscellaneous

  • Desired degree level:

    Doctoral degree program (PhD, MD, JD, etc.)

  • Graduate schools of interest:

  • Transfer schools of interest:

  • Majors of interest:

  • Not planning to go to medical school
  • Career

    • Dream career field:

      Judiciary

    • Dream career goals:

      Juvenile Court Judge

    • Citizen Outreach Caller

      The Fund For the Public Interest
      2016 – 20182 years

    Sports

    Bowling

    Junior Varsity
    2005 – 20061 year

    Awards

    • no

    Research

    • Legal Administrative Assistant/Secretary

      PSU SLS — Intern
      2017 – 2017

    Arts

    • Independent

      Acting
      Alice, through the looking glass
      2004 – 2004

    Public services

    • Advocacy

      Oregon ACLU — Citizen Advocate
      2019 – 2019
    • Volunteering

      Multnomah Co. Library — Youth Librarian assistant
      2006 – 2013

    Future Interests

    Advocacy

    Volunteering

    Philanthropy

    Bold Best Skills Scholarship
    When I set my mind on achieving a goal even death himself can't stop me. Ten years ago I walked into an emergency room because I was finally willing to admit I had relapsed into Anorexia and needed help. When my vital signs were taken my heart rate didn't even register on medical equipment. After a week in the hospital, I had a serious seizure for the first time. When hospital staff asked me about myself to check my memory and mental functions after the seizure, I could recall two parts of my identity. My momma's name was Emma, and my goal in life was to be a family law judge. There were times, after I was released from the hospital, that I couldn't see passed my next breath. I would spend a decade in and out of surgeries and complication related hospital stays. Even angry, I was never hopeless; I was always certain I would complete my undergraduate degree, and I would get into law school. I am good at never giving up. My path to legal education has been long, winding, and knotted at times, but I am here. I am up after six hours of sleep, dressed and in my walker to leave by 7:45 am, and home at 4:30 pm to do homework. I am finding that, if I want to keep persisting, I have to learn how to redefine success. Just as it was necessary for me to walk into the hospital and ask for help ten years ago, I had to accept that success in law is a group effort. That is why you will find me in a study group on Mondays and at office hours twice a week. I didn't get this far to let pride get in my way.
    Pettable Pet Lovers Scholarship
    I am a law school student and adopted a shelter kitten (Mercy Obsidian) she saw my extra textbook cover, and she will not stop going at it. Even after 3 months with me she loves her "pizza." If I take it from her, she will hunt it down.
    Mental Health Movement x Picmonic Scholarship
    Living with anorexia was living in an ever-tightening body cast. Even if my body had been able to produce heat, I was frozen underneath a thick sheet of terror. I was expected to die, and only the people who grew up with would have missed me. The people I met throughout my decade of active illness never stayed long, even when they were paid to assist me go about life with Cerebral Palsy. I was mean, demanding, and struggled with anxiety and delusions. I hated being terrified of going grocery shopping and being surrounded by food. I couldn’t stop the sobbing and yelling when I was unable to exercise and follow an obsessively precise schedule. I was trapped in a body that wasn’t me as I watched people living without me. Realizing how I presented to the world when Anorexia was in control makes me have an indescribable respect and compassion for people struggling with mental health issues now. I want to be able to touch all the talent, wisdom, and wonder buried beneath the weight of illness. I know it exists somewhere, a phantom of what could be, and what is. As hard as it can be to hear and experience life alongside someone with mental illness, I make myself available to listen when I can. I remember how awful I felt knowing that people avoided me, and how much hope I felt when someone heard me trying. I have made it a personal mission to hear the suffering, and the songs of the most “difficult.” I pursue my legal education as a representative of what those with mental illness can give and accomplish in society, and I will never run from it even if it makes some uncomfortable. I want to act as a part of the recognition and normalization of mental health care.
    I Am Third Scholarship
    I want to change the way the law perceives and treats criminality and make our country stronger for it. I am studying the law because I want to make sure that the mens rea, Latin for guilty mind, applies to mistreatment within the family structure, but is rarely given adequate weight in sentencing a person for criminal acts. I want to assure that anyone who spends time in prison gets appropriate care to address the issues and needs that brought them there and take pure punishment out of the equation. No person is inherently or completely criminal or inadequate. Still, our nation has generally accepted the notion that anyone labeled as having a criminal history is a “bad” person, even though they have never met most people who end up in prison. It’s incomprehensible why a nation would use retribution as a means of achieving justice when most incarcerated people will one day become someone’s next door neighbor again. Yet, there are few job opportunities available to formerly incarcerated people. In many states individuals with a record cannot vote; they can’t get as much funding for proper education. In day-to-day life, we avoid people with records as much as possible. It’s that old saying about a person’s character and the company he keeps. The issue I see with the legal system, that I will work to improve, is the same problem I have with a person’s character being judged by the people they spend time with, no few wake up thinking “I’m gong to join a gang today to make some dough.” Crime is not as easy or glamourous as media so often portrays it. Crime and deviance need fuel, and whether it is desperation for things, substances, safety, or because of mental disturbance, there has yet been a crime of any gravity “just because.” The legal system gives lip service to taking context of defendants’ actions into account when sentencing, but that it all it is, lip service. I intend to make sure I give a voice to the reality of each person I interact with, bringing color to each situation. To address the reasons crimes are committed, therein reducing prison population and associated costs, the legal system will need to become more flexible. I intend to advocate strongly for that shift in my profession. I may not live long enough to see the final results of my work and advocacy, but I will live as a catalyst for progress.
    Elevate Mental Health Awareness Scholarship
    Mom said we were going on a trip, and nothing more, as she stuffed four-year-old me in the passenger’s seat of her blue Chevy Nova. It was before six in the morning, my older siblings were helping to pack, and I just wanted to be anywhere else but with Mom. She kept talking about things that never happened; and she kept yelling at us. The trip I want on at four is the first time I remember realizing that something was different about my mother. A weekend visit turned into two months of fear, arguments, violence, and constant travel. No one supported my mother enough to get her help, even as her delusions and outburst have gotten worse every day. Mom’s Relationships only lasted long enough for her to have, seven, children. Everyone who knew our mother would eventually avoid her like the plague. As a kid, I was terrified of setting her off. Because of my fear, and despite having Cerebral Palsy, I avoided asking her for help; if I had to ask, I was at best, berated and taunted. Fear of needing extra help has not left for twenty-eight years. I must remind myself every day, that I am good enough, I am strong enough, and I’m not in danger when asking for assistance. For years into adulthood, I was filled with resentment. I stopped seeing Mom when I began treatment for Anorexia. Several siblings were still stuck in the chaos of our mother’s world. It wasn’t until I relapsed into such severe symptoms of my eating disorder, and a bout of psychosis, that I understood the fear and isolation my mother experienced. Understanding my mother erased any resentment. In a matter oh hours, I was sad, grateful, and empathetic. I was sad at the thought of all her creative and loving potential being washed into madness. I was grateful for the moments of compassion, fun, and lucidity that she must’ve worked endlessly to maintain. I cannot help now, but to think of the effort she needed to make her special homemade stir-fry and paint with a smile until 2 a.m. on Sundays. Because of my mother I knew I wanted to be a child advocacy lawyer since childhood. I believe our legal system can do better for families like mine, using a variety of evidence-based techniques to handle addiction, poverty, and mental illness. Separating families is rarely the best course of action, and no one should be left to suffer because for lack of value, as measured by 401k. One of my goals in law is to advocate for funding and practices that meet people where they are, mentally and physically, to induce more flexibility, problem solving, and empathy for every parent and child in the legal system. Trauma doesn’t occur in a vacuum, and there is good in everyone, if we take the time to find it. Mom is just as much a hurting child as my fifteen-year-old sister, and just as deserving of help and compassion.
    "Wise Words" Scholarship
    All the mistakes, stories, and lessons of my life can be summarized in thirty-eight words, and their mirror image. I have very little in common with the British fantasy writer David Gemmell, but his wisdom shouts my name. Gemmell said, "A warrior feeds his body well; he trains it; works on it. Where he lacks knowledge, he studies. But above all he must believe. He must believe in his strength of will, of purpose, of heart and soul." Like any warrior my path to success has not always been smooth. I started starving myself at age sixteen; chasing after the mirage of perfection. I never realized how far I fell. Anorexia may be real, but I ate seven hundred calories a day, so that wasn't me. I cycled in and out of hospitals for fifteen years before I realized that feeding my body well had very little to do with numbers and formulas. When my bodies hunger was satisfied my hunger to learn grew. Just as I felt the desire to master new skills, I lost my home. I never pictured myself living in a small room, but that's where I live now. Early on I decided to use my isolation to master skills. From new languages, to simple tasks that had been told I could never do, I began studying and training. Tt turns out that nearly all of the "Impossible" skills weren't so after all. After two years, there is not a task or skill I've studied that I haven't improved. As I prepare for law school, the part of Mr. Gemmell's quote that is threaded through the core of my being is faith in my strength of will. I have been so close to death that emergency room equipment couldn't detect my temperature or pulse, I survived as much because of my will as I did because of any tool. The best part about this quote is the fact that it doesn't point to any magic or unattainable gem needed to be a warrior. No one ridged formula or quality will make a warrior. All that we need is within our reach, and no one is condemned into less than all that they could ever be. I believe that everyone is a warrior, a valuable addition to humanity, some have yet to wield their strength in all it's beauty. My goal is to help people realize that power.
    Art of Giving Scholarship
    I am one of the last people you would expect to go to college at all, let alone to pursue a law degree. My Cerebral Palsy leaves most people I meet at first thinking that I can't comprehend basic question about myself. That misconception doesn't take long to clear up; I am capable and determined . One way that Cerebral Palsy effects it harder to pursue my goal is the ways I can pay for it, and all the small expenses along the way. I managed to squeak through my undergraduate education without debt by working at call centers, pinching pennies until the bled, and using any scholarship opportunity I could find. It also helped to have a mother who was willing to cover the cost of shoes, which I put holes in every month because of my gait. I need this scholarship because law school is an entirely different level of expense, and no matter how much effort I put into the way I hold my head, there is still too much inherent bias against people with disabilities in the nation to count on getting a job in a new town when you present as I do, especially one flexible enough for the schedule of a first year law student. I know that as time passes I will be able to make the connections necessary to dispel the misconceptions about my abilities, I always do, but that takes time. This scholarship would bridge the gap between people's doubts about me, and their epiphany that I am one of the most diligent, able, and dedicated people in the face of any task. I want to worry about giving my all to my education, not worrying about how much longer a pair of shoes will last; this scholarship will make that difference for me.
    Pandemic's Box Scholarship
    I spent the 2010s in and out of hospitals. As 2020 approached, I was beginning to regain my health and hope, until four days before the new decade began. I ended up back in the hospital through the new year with pneumonia and blood loss; I thought 2020 would be awful before the pandemic. I've never been so happy about being wrong. In 2020 I was able to focus on getting into law school. Because of the pandemic, I had time to study, and everyone had to take the test online. As a person managing Cerebral Palsy, I was beyond grateful that I didn't have to travel for two hours to take the six-hour test. I scored very well and got into my school of choice. I will be able to become a child advocacy lawyer, and make changes for the better. Not long ago I was on the edge of life, the pandemic helped me slow down and take the time to appreciatei living. Many people have the misperception that Cerebral Palsy makes me fragile but prepared me to thrive in a pandemic. This pandemic gave me the opportunity to appreciate what thriving means
    Elevate Mental Health Awareness Scholarship
    I remember the forty-five minutes my seven grade class spent studying Anorexia very clearly. We hemmed and hawed, and asked how people could look like what we saw on Google, but the lecture didn't give us any real answers. The people who looked like walking death were afraid of being fat, and always saw themselves as such. With that, we all left for lunch. I also remember the first time I became terrified and eaten by guilt because I hadn't exercised for a week while visiting my sister and brother, four years after the Anorexia lecture. At first doing push-ups was enough to end the panic I felt. Over the rest of that summer it became clear that I wasn't experiencing an everyday teen insecurity. I was drowning in my own inadequacies, and I began cutting myself off from everyone, trying to stay afloat. I can't express how filled with terror I was, constantly on the edge of loosing my life, unless I ate less and moved more. I wrote poems about the unknown monster driving me, without ever considering Anorexia. I just wanted it gone. I went into treatment, relapsed, and nearly died many times throughout my twenties, but something as simple as eating enough took fifteen years to re-learn. Most people assigned to help me heal labeled me as, "Unwilling," or "Resistant," to treatment. They were wrong, even though they couldn't see it, I gave all I had to get well, it just wasn't a lot. It was all I had at the time. The imbalance between what I wanted and what I had only evened out when I was no longer getting anything from my illness at all. I was so terrified as to be immobilized, the world was leaving me in a dark corner. Change, and flexibility were scary, but at least I could have a life if I embraced them. Over time, I have bended and changed, and I am glad I could. I am grateful for my experience with Anorexia, because it taught me how far away mental illness can take people away from their everyday selves. I am not the paranoia, fear, anger or obsessiveness that I displayed. I will not forget my experience as I become a lawyer and a judge. No one is just their delinquency, and if they want to change I will offer them any opportunity and support I can. Mental illness, like delinquency, doesn't happen in a vacuum. The most radical behavior often represents an attempt to stay ahead of our oft unrecognized demons. I believe part of my job as a lawyer will be advocating for the decency and potential of my clients. Before I stick a label on another person, I intend to do all I can to address the causes of their behavior. In practice that will mean a lot of listening, observation, and reflection, In order to help people where they are at, I have to understand their experiences as best I can. I don't want to lose anymore people underneath labels like I was for so long.
    Brady Cobin Law Group "Expect the Unexpected" Scholarship
    In my experience, a legacy can be an item, idea, or behavior pattern that is passed between persons or groups over a lifetime. To put the that in more practical terms, a person could pass money, morals, or even goals to younger family and acquaintances over a lifetime, and the impact of what is shared has an impact beyond the author or source. Legacy has a positive connotation, and though that is not necessarily the reality of all legacies, I hope it is the true of mine. Most of my friends view me in particularly bright terms. I am that friend, they say, who is always optimistic, in reality that is far from the truth, but perhaps the dysfunctional family legacy I have inherited has taught me the need, and methods, to fool my friends. I focus my efforts now on maintaining my family's legacies of good humor, love for animals, and artistic flair; I hope that I can add to my personal legacy a greater openness to change and course correction when I am wrong. I will always take great pride in my history of persistence as well. Legacy is essentially what comes to mind about a person or group when they're not around. I hope for myself, and for the world around me, that we are able to develop a more compassionate legacy in the name of all the lessons that we have been through in the past. We have a while to go yet.
    Advocates and Allies in Law Scholarship
    I feared my mother at a young age, and my fear was not unfounded. She would go from an icy silence to a smack, in a minute. There was no logic in her behavior, or her thought as it turned out. By the time my younger siblings were born I knew that our mom was severely mentally ill, and I was helpless to protect my siblings. When I escaped to my father’s full custody at age four, I was safe. My younger sisters and brother were not so lucky. I would tell anyone I could of the violent and illogical world my mother created, and nothing changed. Whether the stories were too absurd, or people were too complacent to hear what I told them, I don’t know. I decided to be my own hero, to become a lawyer, so that I could advocate for those children who, like my siblings and I, felt unseen. I want to expose more of the complex, day-to-day traumas, and issues in families. I want to find more permeant solutions than separation or a few months of counselling. I hope to encourage more flexibility in the judicial system. I hope to see mandatory minimum sentencing abolished and to push for less black-or-white thinking in the legal system. Crime never happens in a vacuum, and simply punishing someone doesn’t address the source of their behavior. My mother lost custody of my youngest sibling for a short time, but her behavior didn’t change because she could not change it alone. In her small town, resources dried up, and my then fourteen-year-old sister was afraid and alone. It’s easy to understand returning to “the devil she knew,” as the saying goes. No punishment solves problems alone. If we want to make our world safer over the long term, the most effective way is to address the things that motivate deviance. Curiosity has led scientist to study and document human behavior patterns. It’s intent to advocate for the use of neurology and other evidence backed sciences when making legal decisions. The legal field is rarely in need of more clients. Imprisonment is being shown as less and less effective. Family courts are overwhelmed, and cases stretch on with negligible positive results. There isn’t one single answer to these issues, but if we allow for more flexibility with the people we serve, positive changes will ripple outward. I will advocate for these changes so that others in my sister’s position don’t lose hope.
    Nikhil Desai "Favorite Film" Scholarship
    In high-school I was an A student, but that didn't stop staff from assuming I was incapable. The teachers came to me in pairs, to decide what type of school supplies I could use. They made me change clothes, because I wore sweatpants. According to the teachers, I didn't brush my hair to there standards, so they cut it. Because I have Cerebral Palsy. That's why I loved the movie "I Am Sam." The film is about a man with developmental disabilities who is left with the everyday challenge of raising his daughter on his own. He honestly does at least as well as many average parents I know, But because his parental struggles are more obvious than many, his daughter is taken by CPS. Sam fights for custody and is vocal about his goal. I too, am Sam. I can do anything my able-bodied counterparts can, but I look different doing it. Just like Sam, I work hard and am constantly questioned. Opportunities are often denied me, the moment I walk through doors because I look fragile. But, like Sam, I persist. I won't say that I've come to my happy ending but, my feature has been filled with gripping highs, and gut-wrenching lows; I've shattered more than my share of misconceptions. I enjoy the journey knowing that my fade-to-credits will be a victorious grin from a judge's bench in a black robe.
    Bold Moments No-Essay Scholarship
    I was the only person with Cerebral Palsy at the climbing gym and my wheelchair looked out of place. I had to wait six weeks after surgery to go rock climbing. I needed to overcome the mountain I was facing in life and this was my start. I would overcome my mental health issues, just like I climbed in the rock gym. I got to the top of the first wall with the help of friends. The climb reminded me of what I could do if I trusted myself and those I loved. I'm healthy, happy, and proud of myself.