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Arlington student needs support to attend National Student Leadership Conference

Elizabeth Finch of Arlington has a chance to attend the National Student Leadership Conference on Law and Advocacy this summer, but she
Elizabeth Finch of Arlington has a chance to attend the National Student Leadership Conference on Law and Advocacy this summer, but she'll need some support from the community to get there.
— image credit: Courtesy photo.

ARLINGTON — Elizabeth Finch is a straight-A 11th-grade student through the Stillaguamish Valley School who volunteers four hours a week at the local library in addition to taking part in a number of extracurricular activities, one of which has earned her some national distinction.

Finch took part in the 2011-12 YMCA Mock Trial Program as both a witness and an attorney, on a team of eight such students who were tasked with studying mock court cases, marshaling their evidence and performing the parts of witnesses and lawyers on both sides of the cases.

"All three of the student lawyers on my team did double-duty as witnesses," said Elizabeth Finch, who got hands-on experience in pretrial motions, as well as direct and cross-examinations, to feed her budding interest in the law. "Earlier in the year, I'd been thinking about going into psychology, but when I went into the mock trial, I realized that utilized many of the same skills."

"I had to convince her to do the mock trial, because she was sure she wouldn't enjoy it," said Bethany Finch, Elizabeth's mom. "Once she got going with it, though, she was willing to take the next steps. She did a lot of work outside of class and on weekends. Even when she got tired, she was so driven that she didn't want to quit."

According to Elizabeth Finch, persuading a judge and jury requires good communication and people skills.

"I want to be an attorney because I can be passionate about what I believe in and help change people's lives," Elizabeth Finch said.

Because of her passion and skill, Finch has been invited to attend this year's National Student Leadership Conference on Law and Advocacy from July 6-15 in Washington, D.C. Her schedule will be kept busy during her 10 days in the nation's capitol, from being involved in a criminal trial simulation and visiting law schools in that area to touring the U.S. Supreme Court and Federal Courthouse.

"We'll also be meeting lawyers and judges at the U.S. Attorney's Office," said Finch, who plans on seeing the memorials of Washington, D.C., and the Smithsonian Museum during her time there as well. "Participating in this program will help me build my skills in public speaking, team building and conflict resolution, all of which are helpful to have in any career."

The only catch is that Finch needs to raise $3,300 to foot the bill for her to go. Those who wish to donate to or sponsor her excursion can log onto www.gofundme.com/ElizabethFinch or call her at 360-474-0587.

"You'd be helping the next generation," Elizabeth Finch said. "Today's teenagers are the future, and for those who say we don't take that seriously, the National Student Leadership Conference shows that we do."

"This has opened a path to a life that she didn't even know existed," Bethany Finch said. "I have to thank the YMCA for that."

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