When an insurance company informed Lisa Bothwell as a child that she wouldn’t be allowed to take equestrian riding lessons anymore because she was deaf, it not only devastated her, but set her on a path to advocate for others with hearing and vision disabilities.
This path has led Bothwell, a fourth-year law student at Loyola University New Orleans College of Law, who recently worked in the Stuart H. Smith Law Clinic and Center for Social Justice at Loyola, to be the first recipient of the Nancy J. Bloch Leadership & Advocacy Scholarship from the National Association of the Deaf.
“We are pleased to welcome Lisa Bothwell as the first recipient of this prestigious scholarship,” said Bobbie Beth Scoggins, president of NAD. “Lisa is an outstanding example of our young, deaf community, and I know the NAD will benefit greatly from her work with us this summer."
The scholarship encourages and enhances the history of the NAD by advancing professional opportunities for young deaf and hard of hearing individuals pursuing careers in law, public policy, nonprofit management and related fields.
Bothwell is assisting the NAD with its intake of deaf truckdrivers for their commercial driver’s license exemptions. In addition, she has obtained a Gillis Long fellowship through the Loyola College of Law and is researching special education issues at the advocacy center. Before Loyola, she served as the community emergency preparedness information network national public relations specialist for Telecommunications for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, Inc.
Remembering her negative experience as a child with the insurance company, Bothwell said, “It devastated me that a business was blatantly telling me I could not do something I was passionate about due to my deafness. This was one of many events that guided me to where I am today.”
At Loyola, Bothwell worked in the community justice section of the law clinic under the supervision of Davida Finger, J.D., an assistant clinical professor. She represented tenants on housing matters and worked on impact litigation cases.
“It was a phenomenal experience where I applied my education to the legal process. I strongly recommend law clinic to anyone attending law school,” Bothwell said.
Following graduation this December, Bothwell would love to continue to perform advocacy and legal work for people who are deaf, hard of hearing and deafblind.
“Deaf legal issues happening today can range anywhere from lack of captioning available on television, at the movies and on the Internet, to businesses not accepting telephone relay calls, to special education decisions,” Bothwell said.