The Law Firm of Hoskins, Turco, Lloyd & Lloyd is pleased to announce Lena Illig as the winner of the Fall 2021 Veterans Scholarship, a $1,000 award granted twice per year that helps a deserving student who is a military veteran or family member of a military veteran, possesses good character, and is dedicated to furthering their education.
Lena’s story is that of strength, gratitude, and a passion for helping others in her community. An advocate of domestic violence and sexual assault, Lena empowers and supports survivors of abuse by shining a spotlight directly on the darkness and reality of these issues and volunteering with local organizations to create lasting change. These qualities, combined with her career aspirations and tremendous sacrifice as a military spouse, make Lena a more-than-deserving recipient of the HTLL scholarship.
Growing up in Anchorage, Alaska, Lena approaches life with resolute resiliency. From extreme weather and long dark winters to small populations and isolation, Alaska is unlike any other state in the country. But it’s where Lena learned the importance of individual strength and found her passion to help women in her community.
“At the time, Alaska was the #1 state in America for rates of domestic violence and sexual assault. Even more astonishing and reprehensible, 59% of Native American women and children experienced some form of abuse . . . I wanted to use my past experiences to help people in my community who experienced violence.”
As a young adult, Lena wanted to make a difference. She enrolled in college to study criminal justice with a minor in women’s studies. The courses she took specifically focused on domestic violence and sexual assault issues in Alaska, helping her develop the tools and knowledge she needed to support women and children within her community.
She volunteered with multiple local non-profit organizations, including Standing Together Against Rape, Abused Women’s Aid in Crisis, Planned Parenthood, and the Justice Club. She even served as the Senator of Student Government, recognizing that many of the domestic violence and sexual abuse issues were the result of systemic judicial and policy injustices. For her actions and advocacy, Lena was awarded the Spirit of Youth Award, the Point of Light Award, and the Martin Luther King Jr. Award—all notable accolades for her passionate commitment.
“There are so many factors as to why victims do not leave their abusive situations. Generally, it takes multiple attempts before a victim can leave. [That’s why it’s so important to have places where victims can go within the community to find support and compassion.]”
Yet, Lena’s resilience also shines through as a military spouse. Part of being a military spouse is putting the needs of others before your own. A military spouse must be flexible, strong, and always ready for change. For Lena, this became apparent when trying to build her own career.
“It took me a couple years of self-reflection to figure out what I was not only passionate about, but what would be feasible. Military spouses face a high rate of unemployment due to the frequency of Permanent Change of Station (PCS). The key to being able to get further in your career as a military spouse is finding a career that you can take with you.”
The COVID pandemic has been and continues to be trying on many families. However, one positive thing that emerged from the past two years for Lena is the opportunity to work remotely. For military spouses, the ability to work remotely enables military wives and husbands to pursue their dream job without fear of being uprooted and transferred to a new station.
“I really am trying to focus on having a better work-life balance to be able to juggle being a military spouse, graduate student, and spend time with my family and husband.”
Lena shares an important message to all of us as we continue to navigate the challenges of the past two years: hug your loved ones a little tighter, push yourself to keep being better, and never give up—a lesson to be learned from a strong, resilient woman.
To learn more about the Hoskins, Turco, Lloyd & Lloyd Scholarship for Veterans and Their Families, please visit our official scholarship webpage here.