The 17-year-old was honored on Law Day by the Rockland County Bar Association, which awarded her 500-word essay about freedom of speech on college campuses with the $1000 Catherine Miklitsch scholarship. Law Day, held annually on May 1, is a national celebration of the rule of law and the U.S. Constitution.
This year’s Law Day theme of “Free Speech, Free Press, Free Society” was emblematic for Chiimbwe, an immigrant from Zambia. She said her passion for writing is rooted in her interests in equal rights and immigrant identity in America.
After living in both Zambia and South Africa, her family moved to America in 2006 for better opportunities. Chiimbwe said that her father was especially interested in expanding her educational opportunities.
Chiimbwe is quiet and reserved but says she expresses herself through writing. She also writes poetry and is the editor-in-chief of North Rockland High School’s literary magazine. In 2017, she won a mock trial at the National Student Leadership Conference at Yale University.
The graduating senior will attend Columbia University in the fall. She hopes to become an international human rights lawyer focused on humanitarian law and social crises.
“I think the best way to merge my need to help people with the way I write and speak joins together in the field of law,” she said.
This year’s Law Day celebration in the jury assembly room at the Rockland County Courthouse drew close to 100 people — including attorneys, elected officials, judges and retired jurists.
Also honored was Elizabeth Santiago, who received the Rockland Bar Association’s Liberty Bell Award for her advocacy on behalf of victims of domestic violence, and the Nyack High School Mock Trial team, for winning the county championships.
Staff Writer Steve Lieberman contributed to this article.