The Law Offices of Anidjar & Levine congratulate university students Nathaniel Derion and Shelice Golding on winning the firm’s Students Against Drunk Driving Scholarship for 2023. The $2,500 award is given to enrolled students who can share why young people drink and drive despite the dangers and offer solutions that can encourage them to make better and safer choices. Attorney Marc Anidjar, who works with Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), is inspired by the success the organization has had in lowering the number of fatal drunk driving fatalities across the nation.
Derion of Wellington, Fla., and a student at the Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) in New York, is studying civil engineering technology and expects to graduate in 2027. Golding, a Lauderhill, Fla., resident, is seeking a Bachelor of Science in Nursing at West Coast University – Miami and expects to graduate in May 2024. The students shared their insights in their scholarship essays.
Scholarship Winner Nathaniel Derion: ‘I Was Hit By a Drunk Driver’
Nathaniel Derion says he knows what it’s like to persevere and push through challenges amid change. Throughout his childhood, he moved several times with his family, learning how to adapt to new environments and make friends. He also has played travel hockey since age 8 and worked diligently to improve his skills while playing in tournaments in high school.
“I was always an average player; I was never the best or worst on the team. My work effort and positive attitude always won over my coaches, and I earned more playing time every season because I showed improvement. When I turned 16, I decided to try out for an advanced team. I was the final player to make the team,” he shares in his essay.
Derion’s drive ultimately meant going from the last player on the team to playing on the first line. He also led him to volunteer and help children learn how to skate and play hockey.
A DUI Accident Brings Clarity, Optimism
Recently, he encountered some of the toughest challenges he has known after getting into an accident with a drunk driver.
“While on my way home from work I was hit by a drunk driver,” he writes in his scholarship essay. “The trauma from the seatbelt caused me to need abdominal surgery to repair 3 different perforations in my intestines. In total, I ended up with 2 minor fractured bones in my spine, a broken ankle, a broken wrist, and an incision reaching from my chest all the way to the bottom of my stomach.”
Derion says he feels lucky to be alive after the accident and will use the optimism he gained to guide him in the future despite the losses from the accident.
“I have learned a lot from this unfortunate experience, like how unpredictable life is and how quick it can change. The new car that I had bought was totaled. It bothered me for a few days until I came to the conclusion that I can buy a new car; I cannot buy a new life or brain. I learned over the past few months how much I took basic things for granted. Walking, bathing, brushing my teeth, or playing video games were now a challenge.”
Derion’s love of reading kept him focused as he recovered from the accident. “My love for reading and learning has always helped me tackle challenges and allow my imagination to roam. All of these experiences I have described display my tendency to persevere and push through adversity.”
Focus on Academics Helps Derion Earn an Associate of Arts Degree While a High-School Senior
Despite his busy travel hockey schedule, Derion completed the AICE (Advance International Certificate of Education) diploma program. The AICE credits and the Palm Beach State College credits he earned during his senior year of high school allowed him to earn an Associate of Arts degree before heading to RIT.
Scholarship Winner Shelice Golding: ‘Drinking and Driving Is the New Pandemic’
Nursing student Shelice Golding’s shared her thoughts about why young people in the U.S. continue to drive after having too much to drink despite the dangers: “Drinking and driving is the new pandemic impacting the driver, passengers, other road users, and, more importantly, the victims’ families,” she writes in her scholarship essay.
People drink and drive for various reasons. Some reasons involve how alcohol affects one physically. Some people do not always recognize that they have had too much to drink because they are drunk. This lack of awareness occurs because of how alcohol affects a person once it is in their system.
“Some are not aware they are drunk because of the slower absorption of alcohol in their bodies,” Golding writes. A possible solution to this issue? Technology, Golding shares.
“New vehicles can adopt hardware systems that detect a change in the driver’s behavior,” she says. “Furthermore, it is advisable to invent future solutions such as features that can help monitor the driver’s behavior. Such features include the steering wheel, brake pedal, and manipulating the vehicle to self-driving option or bring it to a stop.”
She also recommends a simple way to avoid getting behind the wheel after drinking—call a taxi or a rideshare service or get a ride from a friend to ensure they get to their destination safely. “This provides a safer alternative to drunk driving for those too intoxicated to drive themselves home.”
Stricter Punishments for DUI Accidents Could Discourage Drunk Driving
Golding notes that some people drink and drive while under the influence because they do it again and again without facing any consequences. If authorities don’t catch them, it could embolden them to keep engaging in situations that are not only dangerous to them but to others, too.
“The law should enforce stricter punishments for people caught driving under the influence to serve as a deterrent for the rest,” Golding writes. She shares how Tennessee recently passed “Bentley’s Law” in 2022, which requires convicted drunk drivers to pay child support to minor children if their parents suffered fatal injuries in a DUI accident.
She also urges continued education for members of the public so that they are always aware of the dangers of intoxicated driving and do their part in helping young people make better decisions that could save their lives and others.
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