Benjamin Carew-Gonzales has won the 2017 Spolin Law P.C. Civil Rights and Criminal Law Scholarship. Mr. Carew-Gonzales is a student at Austin Community College in Austin, Texas. As a result of his selection, Spolin Law P.C. will pay $1,000 towards his college tuition and fees.

Mr. Carew-Gonzales was selected based on his essay, academic achievement, and personal background of continuing his family’s commitment to service. Mr. Carew-Gonzales is an example of the type of person whose personal goals involve the protection of others. As he notes in his essay, one of Mr. Carew-Gonzales’s earliest memories was that of his father instructing him to “defend those who cannot defend themselves, speak for those who cannot speak for themselves.”

Four other students were selected as honorable mentions in recognition of their outstanding essays and personal achievements. Below is a list of all those recognized in this year’s scholarship season:

  • Winner: Benjamin Carew-Gonzales (Austin Community College; Austin, Texas)
  • Honorable Mention: Courtney Smith (Augustana College; Rock Island, Illinois)
  • Honorable Mention: Jeremiah Taylor (Louisiana Tech University; Ruston, Louisiana)
  • Honorable Mention: Stefan Pinkston (University of Scranton; Scranton, Pennsylvania)
  • Honorable Mention: Amber Banks (Alabama A&M University; Huntsville, Alabama)

Spolin Law P.C. would like to thank everyone who applied this season. For those interested in applying for next year’s scholarship, the application deadline is October 1, 2018.

Mr. Carew-Gonzales’s winning essay submission is posted below:

The Constitution means me everything to me and my family. I will give a little background to my family life and then you will see how things have shaped my life.

I guess I should start from the beginning. I was born and raised in a small affluent town in the inner city of San Antonio where my family was far from affluent. I come from a family that values an education and effort put forth to be greater than any expectations set. My grandfather barely completed the second grade, while his wife, my grandmother started over with nothing after her family was run out of Mexico by Emiliano Zapata in the early 1900’s and was forced to work in the fields as a little girl. My mother’s parents barely completed high school. These figures in my parent’s life influenced them to at all costs graduate with a college degree. They did. They didn’t stop there, they understood the value of an education so well they planned for the future by buying a small two bedroom one bath house in Alamo Heights School District so that my brother and I would be prepared for college when the time came. Following the purchase of a house, my parents applied for the drawing of the Spanish Immersion Program at Alamo Heights Elementary School. Luckily, we were selected. This monumental moment in my life has bettered my education and life experience by giving me the ability to speak another language fluently and communicate with a wide variety of people, as well the ability to immerse myself in another heritage and culture.

My parents instilled the mindset of hard work and determination into my life at a very young age. To be myself and not to be afraid to go against the crowd if I know that’s what is right. That perseverance, knowledge, and a little bit of sweat can go a long way. To respect my elders and always reply with yes/no ma’am, yes/no sir no matter the situation. To hold my ground and not only defend myself, but also protect those who cannot protect themselves. To love and be loved and not to be afraid to show your emotions at times. Tell the truth no matter the circumstance and before bed each night thank God for the opportunity and blessing of another day.

One of my first memories was my father telling me “You’re going to be a leader of men someday, defend those who cannot defend themselves, speak for those who cannot speak for themselves, and be a person that others will turn to for guidance and direction” being so young it was hard to comprehend, but it is something that has shaped me into the man I am today. Throughout my years my father’s words have rung true. I have led a diverse group of men and women, from the football field on Friday night to 6AM ROTC land navigation and PT (Physical Training) in college. Then this past summer where I worked at a Christian summer camp (Laity Lodge Youth Camp) and led a large group of men, women, and children in high ropes activities, as well as worship where I encouraged these individuals to go outside their comfort zones and become vulnerable to trust. My second language of Spanish has also only helped me with that leadership and ability to communicate and help those who cannot communicate with others.

With all of this being said you can start to get the idea that my family was very grateful to come to the United States back in early 1900’s and to start over. My grandparents as well as my parents have always instilled what it means to be proud to be an American and what the Constitution allows every American the basic freedoms. We respect the Constitution, the American flag and our Country.

My family also has a sense of duty to preserve our Constitution and defend it. My father served our country in the United States Army for 8 years. I have enrolled into ROTC to follow in my father’s footsteps. My younger brother just enlisted into the Marine Corp and will ship out at the end of the year. We take pride in our Constitution and what it means to live in a country where we are free.

With this past weekend’s events with the President and the NFL controversy just shows that our country’s Constitution allows for freedom of expression. It does not matter your political views or if you see the protest as right or wrong – it just shows that we as Americans have the privilege to express our views freely. For this we all should be grateful for our Constitution.

Our founding fathers had amazing insight to allow us to live protected with certain fundamental rights. When I think of the Constitution I think of the Legislative, Executive, and Judicial branches. These branches mean that there will be laws to protect our citizens. The checks and balances mean that no one person will take over the county. The Constitution along with the Bill of Rights protect us in many ways that most do not truly appreciate.

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