Last month, I had the honor of attending the Latino/a Bar Association of Washington (LBAW) Gala in Seattle, Washington as a scholarship recipient. I had never attended a gala before in my life, so I was beyond nervous. What do you wear? Do you take a date? Where am I supposed to park in downtown Seattle? It was truly a nightmare. Fortunately, a good friend of mine was also awarded a scholarship by LBAW so we were in it together.

When we both arrived to the gala, I was completely amazed by the elegance of the location and how beautifully everything was decorated. There were hundreds of people attending the gala, and I was overwhelmed with the feeling that I was in an important place with really important people. Sure enough, as my friend and I worked our way to get a drink, we noticed there were justices from the Washington Supreme Court, as well as appellate court and trial court judges. All I kept thinking was, “Justice Yu is here!” (Side note: If you don’t know who Justice Yu is, look her up! She is one of the most inspirational judges on the Washington Supreme Court bench.) Coincidently, there were also other law students I met last year through my internship with Columbia Legal Services. It was a great time to reconnect and celebrate our successes.

We then moved to the main dining area, where we were assigned seats. I was separated from everyone I knew! Again, the nervousness creeped up. I very bravely worked my way to table 6 and low and behold, Justice Yu was sitting right next to my assigned seat! I literally whispered “is this real life right now?” as I took a seat. To my pleasant surprise, all nervousness vanished. I met other amazing lawyers who were also sitting at table 6, and for the rest of the night I felt so comfortable and at ease. I realized that although I am a second year law student and not yet a lawyer or even a state Supreme Court justice, I had worked really hard to be sitting at that table.

This night taught me so many lessons. The most important one of all is that although many times I feel frustrated and stuck as a law student, I am moving towards my goals. Sitting with such amazing individuals taught me that I have such an immense privilege that I didn’t fully realize I had before. I realized I have the potential to do great things just like these people I admire; that I, too, can be an amazing counselor for my community and make real changes in people’s lives.

Overall, it was an amazing night. Did I mention I took a selfie with Justice Yu? I know, pinch me! Also, I danced all night with the LBAW board in the after party. The LBAW gala was the perfect balance between a learning experience, a fun night, and a huge inspiration to keep pushing forward.