For 2018 Council scholarship recipient and Harvard Law School student Sean Whalen, his experience as a person who is blind gives him empathy and relationship-building skills that will serve him well as an attorney. Sean has one more year left at Harvard Law School. Council’s writer, Katherine Corbett, sat down with Sean to learn more about Who inspires him, his hopes for the future, and his hobbies.
Katherine Corbett: Why did you decide to attend Harvard Law School?
Sean Whalen: I decided to attend law school because I am interested in law and public policy, and going to law school is a great way to get a job in the legal and public policy field. I am particularly interested in education and immigration issues.
Katherine: What lessons has your visual impairment taught you?
Sean: Being blind has forced me to be more organized. I am not naturally an organized person, so being forced to be more organized has helped me a lot. Dealing with issues presented by blindness has made me aware of the common threads of the human experience; everyone has challenges, mine is more obvious. Everybody has their own struggles and difficulty. Blindness is not so unique. Being determined and creative and overcoming obstacles is something everyone has to do.
Katherine: How do you plan to apply those lessons to the rest of your life?
Sean: These lessons help with empathy and building personal connection, which will be important skills for me to have as an attorney. I will work with people of all backgrounds, building relationships with them. Empathy and being a good listener are also important, and I have developed those as a person who is blind.
Katherine: Tell me about a person who inspires you.
Sean: My mother is someone who inspires me. She taught me the value of working hard, getting up every day and doing your best. She has a lot of grit and determination. I find it motivating to think about how hard other people have worked to give me the opportunities I have; it encourages me to work hard.
Katherine: How does the Council’s mission resonate with your own life goals?
Sean: The Council’s mission serves as a motivation to see a better future for people who are blind or visually impaired. Even though I do not want to be a disability rights lawyer, I would like to do pro bono work on disability rights issues. I want to see more people included in our communities, especially when it comes to employment.
Katherine: What is your favorite instrument, sport or hobby? Why?
Sean: I enjoy playing the guitar; it is the only instrument I can play.
Watch Council publications and social media for an announcement about the upcoming 2019 Council scholarship winners!