From alienation to celebration….
Leonid Kandinov, of La Mesa, California and originally of Tashkent, Uzbekistan, just started law school at University of California, Davis because he wants to be an attorney that helps people. In May 2008 he received The Morris Kawaler Memorial Scholarship Award. Though he met with great success as an undergraduate at San Diego State, he has known adversity in his short life.
In his own words: “Not allowed to practice our religion freely [in predominantly Muslim Uzbekistan], we had to do so in secret. We attended services in an underground temple. We celebrated the holidays quietly inside our living room. And we never talked about religion or our identity outside of our homes. …my identity in America is not only accepted but it is celebrated. Instead of persecution, I have come in contact with questions… I have been given a true identity. No longer am I an alien, I am home. And I have felt at home since that proud day I was granted citizenship to this beautiful country.”
“I promise that I will grow to be an attorney that is driven by integrity. I promise to represent the Jewish people in the highest light. … But most of all, I promise that I will not just ignore my debt. I will one day also have the honor and joy to give to this scholarship program and change someone else’s life for the better.