Catholic University third-year law student Rebecca L. Zimmerman was awarded the 2012 D.C. Women's Bar Association Foundation (WBAF) Founder's Fellowship, a $5,000 scholarship offered to one local law student to fund his or her summer internship working on behalf of women and children in Washington, D.C.
Zimmerman, who is editor-in-chief of the Catholic University Law Review (Vol. 62), is the sixth recipient of the fellowship, which was established in 2007.
“With the support of the WBAF, I spent my summer working as a law clerk at Children's Law Center in their family permanency program,” Zimmerman explains. “Specifically, I worked with foster parents, grandparents, and other third-party and kinship caregivers on adoption, custody, and guardianship cases to help achieve permanency for at-risk children, especially those in the foster care system.”
Zimmerman summed up her summer experience in a 1,000 word essay submitted to the WBAF. In it, she movingly described how one older client was motivated to gain legal custody of her grandchildren when they were at risk.
“After the children’s mother passed away, Ms. ‘A’ continued to serve as the children’s sole caregiver, doing her best, despite her limited means, to provide them with everything they needed to succeed in life. However, she had never obtained formal legal or physical custody of her grandchildren, so the attorneys and I were able to help Ms. A navigate the judicial process to ensure that both she and her grandchildren could enjoy the full legal rights of family membership. Working with these clients was an incredibly rewarding experience, not only because we were able to help them achieve the all-important goal of permanency, but also because it demonstrated the positive things that can happen when community and family members partner with legal advocates for a common purpose.”
An executive summary and the entire personal essay about her summer experience was posted on the WBAF's Web site in October.