Coca-Cola Scholars Foundation awards 2018 Crawford Johnson III Most Inspirational Scholar

2018 Crawford Johnson III Most Inspirational Scholar

Lal Lawmi

Emmett Conrad High School
Dallas, Texas

Lal Lawmi is of Burmese heritage. She is the middle child of three sisters who were raised in a single parent household. She is the first generation from her family to attend college. She ranks 5th in a class of 250 where she takes the most rigorous curriculum.

She serves her school and community in a host of organizations and service opportunities. She is her school’s representative to the Dallas Teen School Board. She serves her community through the Rising Leaders program and founded the Diamond & Pearls group to support girls and young women. She is the Dallas/Fort Worth representative to the Texas Leadership Forum and she is a volunteer leader for the Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden. She works part-time and mentors refugee/immigrant students at the local elementary school who need help with English literacy.

In her own words. Lal shares the following:

“To truly serve others, one must have an attitude not only of compassion but of humility conditioned by self respect. Pride often goes along with prejudice, therefore, with pride one cannot truly serve others. However, with humility and self-respect, one can empathize with people and walk alongside them and serve them in their needs.

We immigrated in the United States just a few years ago and I have had my share of culture shock. I personally struggled with language and had to learn things very fast to keep up with the changes around me. I could not have done it on my own if I did not have help through mentors and significant people who had patiently helped me. I am truly inspired by their selfless commitment to me and how they invested their time, efforts, and affections to me.

That’s the thing with inspiration, it sows a seed in me and grows everyday as I keep it alive. With the right concept of service, expectation of a reward does not become a priority. What motivates my service is knowing that I had been helped without having to pay for that love and compassion, that understanding free of judgement, and desiring to pass on that inspiration to others.

I had volunteered as a translator for people who cannot speak English and I also work as a volunteer at McShan Elementary School through Peer Assistance Leadership to help ESL students in their school work. The satisfaction I get from this is the hope that the people I serve today will serve others tomorrow. And that they will be empowered like I am to stand and walk on their own.

Great leaders bring people together and inspire people to become their better selves. I have strived to know myself, to know my weaknesses, my fears as well as my strengths. Once I know myself and I have no fear to find out the truth about myself I am not threatened by others’ perception of me. I have had a few leadership positions where I am given the opportunity to practice what I believe.

One of my most fulfilling leadership experiences is through my role as a female president and section leader in our school choir. I set a goal upon myself to improve the choir’s team culture. This is exceptionally hard because it is hard to break culture as much as it is hard to break habits. We have a very diverse membership in the choir where language and cultural barrier dominates the team. Communication is the primary problem.

My approach is to work on myself to become a role model, to set an example. I engaged with each team members and provided tutoring and help as they needed. After taking these measures our attendance at practices has increased 93 percent and above. For the first time in our school history, we received a district wide award for a fine arts program. Our team had grown from twelve to thirty members. We now embrace each other, not just accepting one another but appreciating our differences. I cannot ask for more as a leader. My values serve as the foundation of my character.

My dreams and aspirations arise out of this complex character that is a tapestry in the making. I had always dreamt of being a Pediatrician because of my passion for kids and my desire to help them. There is something uniquely captivating about working with children for me. Their innocent nature of trust and unconditional love are what draws me to them and inspires me to continue dreaming that we can
make this world a better place.

This desire to work with children in a health care environment was fueled by my constant observation of the harsh conditions surrounding my childhood. We lost two of my brothers from malaria within the same year. This situation of helplessness, the endless pain, and the deep sense of loss is something that is hard to describe with words.

Apart from this tragedy, I had my own health challenges. I was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease at eight. My skin pigmentation was effected, and I lost almost all of my hearing in my left ear, and fifty percent of my hair turned grey. The embarrassment was hard enough to endure apart from the physical and emotional pain. I felt like being thrown into a pit where my confidence and self-esteem is smothered. The support of my family enabled me to regain my self-confidence and my dream to someday  help suffering children who are undergoing all kinds of pain.

These harsh conditions and painful experiences in my life had not diminished my values but have strengthened it. My love and compassion for people in need is growing along with my desire to serve. My vision is intertwined with my values, and paradoxically, my values give me the strength and determination to fulfill my visions.”