MLF Attorney Warmly Remembers Friend Who Made Her American Dream Possible13 May 2015
At the Murthy Law Firm (MLF), supporting the American dreams of our clients is not only a goal, it is our passion. Since its inception, our nation has been molded by talented, hardworking immigrants who come here to build a better life for themselves and their families; we are honored to help current and future generations of immigrants follow their dreams and achieve success and prosperity. Several members of our staff are immigrants themselves, and have been personally touched by the kindness and generosity of friends made in America while beginning life anew. Such is the story of Assistant Managing Attorney and firm Member Anna Stepanova.
A native of the Soviet Union, Anna originally came to the United States in 1991, when she was introduced to Antonia Hamilton in Iowa City, Iowa. Originally from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Antonia was working for the University of Iowa Alumni Foundation at the time, and the two women became friends almost immediately. Anna recalls that Antonia was warm and welcoming, and that their shared passion for art, cooking, literature, and music fostered hours of deep conversation. Antonia soon made it her mission to keep her new friend in the U.S. She set up a meeting for Anna with the University of Iowa Alumni Foundation president, and shortly thereafter, Anna was admitted to the university with a full scholarship and began working towards earning a bachelor’s degree. Antonia encouraged her friend every step of the way, arranging financing for her books and tuition and helping Anna and her husband, Anatoly, settle into life in the U.S. After only a year, Anna completed her bachelor’s degree and began work on a master’s degree in linguistics. When that was complete, she eventually went on to attend the University of Iowa College of Law, again with Antonia’s full support and encouragement. [See Antonia Hamilton, 74, Worked in Institutional Development, by Bonnie Cook, Philly.com, 06.March.2015.]
Although Antonia moved back to her native city of Philadelphia shortly after she befriended Anna, the two women remained close, talking by phone weekly and visiting each other often. Antonia introduced her to her hobby of crafting beaded jewelry, and they shared ideas, techniques, and sources for supplies. Anna especially recalls Antonia’s spirit of generosity. While still in law school and on a tight student budget, Anna gave birth to her first child, and Antonia came to visit, purchasing toys, clothes, and a crib for the new baby.
Anna and Antonia’s friendship remained strong for nearly 20 years when, in 2010, Antonia was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. After years of Antonia’s being such a pillar of support for Anna, it was now Anna’s opportunity to return the favor. From 2010 through February 28, 2015, when Antonia succumbed to her tragic disease, Anna worked diligently to provide comfort and encouragement to her dear friend. Anna spoke at the memorial service in Philadelphia and recalls a “packed house” full of family and friends who were all impacted by Antonia’s warmth, kindness, and spirit of giving. Inspired by the memory of her friend, Anna decided to handcraft a collection of beaded jewelry to sell it at a street festival held in May in Towson, Maryland. All proceeds from her jewelry sales were donated in Antonia’s honor to the Penn Memory Center, a national institute that researches and treats Alzheimer’s disease and other progressive memory disorders. A matching donation was also provided by the MurthyNAYAK Foundation, which is the nonprofit organization established by Murthy Law Firm founder and president, Sheela Murthy, and her husband, Vasant Nayak.
The story of the relationship between Anna Stepanova and Antonia Hamilton is proof that the spirit of the American dream is alive and well. Antonia’s warm welcome and generosity helped Anna achieve her dream of a thriving legal career in the United States. It also led to a lifelong friendship, with two women supporting each other through their times of need. It is stories like this that inspire every staff member at Murthy Law Firm and fuel our passion for all immigrants and their dreams.
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