Rising Together: Two Chicago-Kent Students Awarded WBF Scholarships

  • By Kayla Molander

The Illinois Women’s Bar Foundation has selected two Chicago-Kent College of Law students to be recipients of its 2024 WBF scholarships. Only two students from each law school can be nominated. This year both Chicago-Kent students who were nominated won.

Jada Nneji ’25 was awarded $15,000 and Yoss Arianlou  ’25 was given $5,000 from the organization, which awards scholarships to “deserving and qualified women students in accredited Illinois law schools” and also works to “honor the memory of distinguished women lawyers and judges by awarding such scholarships in their name and memory,” according to the group’s website.

“I feel amazing, to be honest,” says Nneji. “The entire board that I was able to meet is so accomplished and they’ve given back so much to the community, so it’s just an honor to be one of the recipients of this award.”

Nneji grew up in Ontario, Canada, and completed her undergraduate studies at University of Illinois Chicago on a full basketball scholarship. Inspired by her athletic background, she majored in rehabilitation science but found herself more interested in law and policy.

Since she’s been at Chicago-Kent, she’s completed internships at General Electric HealthCare and at BMO Bank. She’ll spend the summer of 2024 at Vedder Price as a corporate summer associate.

Nneji is looking forward to joining the WBF community, which also offers numerous professional development and networking opportunities throughout the year.

“I think it’s important, being a woman in this profession, that we rise together and leave the door open for someone else,” she says.

Nneji will be Vice President of Chicago-Kent’s Student Bar Association in the 2024–2025 academic year and is looking forward to using her acquired knowledge to help others.

“I really admire all of the women at WBF, and I believe they will serve as great mentors to me,” Nneji says. “Their example has inspired me to continue mentoring junior students at Chicago-Kent, and to encourage them to pay it forward to the next class of students.

Arianlou described the application and interview process as amazing and inspiring.

“Being in a space where so many amazing women wanted to talk to me felt like a reward in itself,” she says.

“I think that just goes with how we as women are raised, especially minority women,” Arianlou says. “We’re told we should sit back, we should listen, we should be more respectful, but that does not mean that we’re not confident and we are not of value.”

Arianlou was born in Iran and immigrated to the United States when she was eight years old. She remembers being in high school when the Trump administration’s Muslim ban went into the effect.

Many people from her home country were stranded at airports around the country.

“A bunch of lawyers fled to the airports and were providing services pro bono,” she says. “These lawyers are having an immediate and important impact on these people’s lives, and it just felt amazing. I wanted to tap into that power and actually make a difference.”

Arianlou is a member of Chicago-Kent’s Trial Advocacy team, and she worked in the Estate Planning, Probate, and Transactional Clinic. She also co-founded the Middle Eastern and North African Law School Association.

Arianlou clerked in the nursing home and medical malpractice division of Malman Law in her first summer of law school. She’s now clerking at Corboy and Demetrio and finds herself interested in civil litigation, which surprised her.

“I am short, my voice is high pitched, I have a small figure,” she says. “I always feel like I have to try twice as hard to be taken seriously.”

Arianlou voiced these frustrations to the WBF scholarship panel, only for one of the members to say that she’s had the same experience but is a successful civil litigator.

“You’ll prove them all wrong,” the panelist said.


Photo: Jada Nneji and Yoss Arianlou [provided]

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