May 25, 2006
Shilpa M. Gokare, a third-year law student who just graduated from Georgia State’s College of Law, captured second place in the recent National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys (NAELA) Student Journal Writing Competition. The competition was held to help further interest and understanding of diversity issues related to laws for the elderly.
Gokare won the award for her 34-page paper titled, Are Nursing Homes Nursing the Needs of the Indian-American Immigrants? In the paper, Gokare analyzed problems facing the more than 1.6 million Indian-Americans living in the U.S., many of whom she said face spending their last years in nursing homes that don’t understand or respect their culture and religion. Gokare, a native of India, places a special focus on Hindu immigrants in Georgia, ranging from the foods Hindus eat to the way they dress.
"The fact that I won second place with a paper in an area of law that I want to pursue my career in meant a lot to me," said Gokare, who won $1,000 and a one-year subscription to the NAELA magazine. "I wanted a few people to read my paper, but I wasn’t even thinking about winning. I wanted to pass on this message to a lot of local Indians."
With a background in social work, Gokare has been interested in elder law for nearly a decade. She holds a bachelor’s degree in social work from Sophia College in Bombay, India, and a master’s in social work from Tata Institute of Social Sciences in India. Her paper will be published in the June edition of the NAELA Student Journal.
"There is a huge need among the elderly in a lot of immigrant communities, and although I happened to focus my paper on the Indian community, I’m sure it’s the same in other communities," Gokare added. "There are very few elder law attorneys in the nation and it’s good to have this type of recognition."