Nikita Bhojani, L’19, didn’t win her first competitive scholarship. In fact, she’s probably applied for about 30 scholarships without much luck. But that’s not to say her success rate isn’t remarkable. Bhojani has been the recipient of eight third-party scholarships over the past two years.

The first scholarship she won, from the Richmond Bar Association, “gave me confidence that I could win more,” said Bhojani. Her confidence was well placed: Since then, she’s received the McGuire Woods Diversity Scholarship, the Federal Circuit Bar Association Scholarship, the Richard J. Banta Civil Justice Scholarship, the Phi Delta International Exchange and Minority Balfour Scholarship, the Richard Linn American Inn of Court Scholarship, and a second Richmond Bar Association Scholarship. Most recently, she traveled to Denver to receive the Mike Eidson Scholarship for her work in trial advocacy from the American Association of Justice’s Women for Justice Education Fund, where she delivered an acceptance speech to a crowd of 350 female trial lawyers.

Opportunities like the trip to Denver give Bhojani the chance to share her story with a wider audience. As a first-generation college student, Bhojani has “found a safe haven in doing community service projects and telling people about my culture” throughout her academic experience. In high school, that meant creating a “Henna Community Service Project” to share her cultural Pakistani heritage while raising funds for international relief efforts for Focus Humanitarian Assistance. In law school, it’s translated into pro bono volunteering and spearheading Richmond Law’s Legal Aid Food Frenzy efforts. Through the essays she’s written and speeches she’s delivered via the scholarship programs, she’s shared her stories and passions with a wider audience.

The scholarships have also proved to be a great networking tool, as well. After her speech at the awards reception in Denver, for example, Richmond attorney who had heard her speech messaged her on LinkedIn with a lunch invitation to discuss an internship opportunity. “It definitely opens more doors,” said Bhojani, because “people get to know you better.”

The scholarship applications are a work-intensive endeavor for the rising 3L student, who dedicates night and weekend time to identifying opportunities and submitting applications. “Each one requires an essay, so it takes some time and energy to fill out these applications,” said Bhojani. Most require referrals from professors – “Not having good references and not having good mentorships would not have allowed me to get scholarships,” Bhojani explains. She finds some scholarships through Richmond Law, but ends up identifying most of the opportunities through simple online searches, starting locally but then moving further afield. And the more she’s applied to – and the more she’s won – the more confidence she’s gained.

But confidence isn’t the only motivation: “I receive motivation and inspiration from my parents to continue applying,” said Bhojani, who sees each scholarship as “an accomplishment for my entire family." She explains, “It reaffirms and symbolizes my parents' hard work, their challenges and adversities, and most of all their perseverance.”

For Bhojani, perseverance has had a huge payoff: Her scholarship totals amount to $36,000 – almost a full year of law school tuition.