Kadas Scholarship recipient Malwina Kopytek (LLB 2020) grew up dreaming big. Despite a humble background growing up in the small Polish city of Kielce, Malwina had international ambitions. Now in her third year, Malwina talks about her journey to LSE and how, since starting her studies, she has seized opportunities to fulfil her dreams.
Small beginnings, international ambitions
When I was in high school, I joined the Women to Women International Leadership Programme in Boston. There were girls from 100 different countries and during our time there we shared our experiences of being a girl, female empowerment and how law can help us achieve equality. That was the ground-breaking moment when I decided to study law as I realised it combined my interest in politics and social issues with my desire to have an impact on the world.
I knew I wanted to study abroad and experience international environments but, when it was time to research universities, my small school couldn’t give me any help. I had a few friends who had studied in England and they told me about LSE's good reputation. I did some research on my own and I saw that LSE was very diverse – 70% of students are from overseas. This was important for me as Poland is very monocultural and I was seeking to experience something different.
My journey to LSE
I remember that when I was applying I didn’t really think that I would get in, but my mum told me to just apply and see – "Maybe your dream will come true." So I did and I got an offer! However, after reviewing our financial situation, my mother realised that it would be impossible for us to afford it. It was then that I started to research into scholarship opportunities and decided to apply for the Kadas scholarship.
When I received the letter saying that I was to be a scholar I started crying with happiness. Now the doors were open for me and there were no financial barriers stopping me – I felt so happy and optimistic about things! If you work hard then you can achieve things that seem impossible, you just have to believe in yourself, reach out and ask for help when you need to.
When I arrived at LSE I felt very lucky. There were so many people who didn’t get this chance, and I wanted to make the most of it. In my first year, I got involved in the Model United Nations programme through which I was able to go to an event in Panama. This was what I had been wanting – international experiences – and thanks to this I felt I grew so much as a person. My first year made me realise that at LSE you can do so much more beyond your degree, and the scholarship enabled me to take advantage of it.
This year, my big international adventure was in the US. I applied to intern with the US Congress through the Transatlantic Future Leaders Forum, an organisation based in Warsaw that sends the brightest Polish students to intern with Washington lawmakers. It was unreal to be working in the US Congress – I was surrounded by inspirational people from all walks of life and I felt right in the centre of global politics.
I was an intern in the office of Representative Marcy Kaptur from Ohio. I had a range of duties, including answering emails, writing letters, drafting reports, attending meetings and preparing documents. I even had the chance to write a letter to the New York Times and help with the congresswoman's speeches about Poland and Ukraine. I really saw the broad spectrum of duties that staffers in Congress have, and also the prospects for professional growth because, when you prove yourself, you get tasks that enable you to make great use of your abilities.
I also enjoyed being a part of the crew that helps fulfil promises made to constituents. I saw the good and powerful change you can make through legislation. For example, I read many letters and emails concerning gun violence and attended discussions and meetings on the subject. I saw how it is difficult to find solutions but by taking small steps, and channelling legal action, you can at least enforce some positive change. You might not solve the whole problem, but you can arrive at solutions that will bring some improvements, and maybe those solutions will drive better policy that will fully solve the problem in the future.
Dreams for the future
I am now in my final year at LSE. Once I graduate, I would like to pursue my studies further and do a master's in law. I would like to broaden my knowledge and gain a deeper understanding of practising law and using it for social benefit. My big dream is to work as an international lawyer for the UN or another international organisation – I would love to work in this sphere where I can combine law with politics and international relations. I have many plans, ideas and dreams and I believe they might actually come true if I work hard. At LSE, I have learned to believe in myself and in what I’m capable of, and I’m feeling very empowered.
Thank you to The Kadas Family Charitable Foundation which awards scholarships for nationals of particular European countries, for any LSE undergraduate programme.