2020 Appel Law Firm Scholarship Winner

scholarship winner

Each year, Appel Law Firm LLP awards an Auto Accident Law Firm Survivor Scholarship to college and graduate students who are survivors of motor vehicle accidents. The winner of this year’s scholarship, Cecilia Le, overcame serious injuries after a bicycle accident and is currently enrolled in law school at the University of Oregon School of Law. She will receive $1,000 toward her tuition.

Meet the Winner: Cecilia Le

Cecilia Le is a first-generation American, born to parents who emigrated to the United States from Vietnam in search of a better life. Growing up Cecilia knew the importance of getting a good education. She has worked hard to make her family proud — and to achieve academic excellence.

Cecilia attended the University of California, Riverside. She initially began college as a biology major, but quickly realized that her passion was elsewhere. She changed majors to Political Science, with a minor in Gender Studies, and graduated in 2017. 

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From there, Cecilia set her sights on her next goal: law school. She started at Western State School of Law and transferred to the University of Oregon School of Law in 2019. She is in the top 25% of her class. She is active in many organizations, including the Moot Court Board, the Frohnmayer Leadership Program, the Law and Entrepreneurship Student Association, and the Oregon Law Students Public Interest Fund.

Since her junior year of college, Cecilia has been financially independent. She has a unique perspective on the struggles that many low-income communities face. As a result, she has decided to work in the public sector, providing legal representation to people who otherwise could not afford it.

The Accident

While a student at the University of California in 2015, Cecilia was hit by a driver who failed to look before turning left into an intersection. The SUV hit her, knocking her off of her bicycle and onto the pavement. Initially, she thought that she was uninjured but later learned that she was in shock.

At the hospital, doctors diagnosed Cecilia with two fractured bones in her lower back. She also had a laceration on her ankle and a sprained ankle.  After the accident, she struggled to overcome both the physical pain and emotional trauma from the accident.  It was painful for her to sit in class, to walk with crutches to get to campus, or even to get out of bed. Just a college junior, Cecilia felt her life shrink as she could only attend lectures, go to doctor’s appointments, and study.

Cecilia ultimately channeled those feelings into changing her career and life goals. Sitting through lectures while in pain made her realize that she wasn’t happy being a biology major. She switched to political science and began to find happiness again.

What We Can Learn from Cecilia’s Story

Accidents like Cecilia’s happen far too often — a driver not paying attention, and hitting a pedestrian or bicyclist as they go about their day. Despite being seriously injured, Cecila believes that she was fortunate to have not suffered a head injury in the accident.

The first lesson that we can draw from her story is that shock can hide severe pain, and make you believe that you are OK. If you have been in an accident, it is important to get checked out by a healthcare professional as soon as possible — just as Cecilia did.

The second lesson that Cecilia teaches us is that beauty often arises from tragedy. Cecilia was in a dark place after her accident, in both physical and emotional pain. She used this opportunity to figure out what it was that she truly wanted in life — and is now on her way to an incredible career as a lawyer.

The lawyers of Appel Law Firm LLP are honored to present this scholarship to Cecilia Le. We are thrilled to play a role in helping her achieve her goal of being a public interest lawyer. Our entire team sends her our best wishes as she finishes her education and moves into the legal world.

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