Vineyarder Danielle Hopkins was recently named one of the 10 law students across the country selected to join the Marshall-Motley Scholars Program, a program created by the Legal Defense Fund to support future civil rights lawyers practicing in the South.

Through the program, Ms. Hopkins will receive a full scholarship to Yale Law School, where she will attend this August, as well as a support network from the other members of her cohort.

“Apart from the money, which is obviously nice, I think what really got me interested what having this community in law school,” she said.

Ms. Hopkins spent her childhood on the Vineyard — though she noted bashfully that she was born in Falmouth. Although this opportunity will take Ms. Hopkins far from Island shores, she credits her high school English class with the late Dan Sharkovitz for inspring her to take up criminal justice work.

“We were assigned to read The New Jim Crow [by Michelle Alexander], and I started to become aware of racial issues across the country I had previously been shielded from on the Island,” she said. “Once I became aware of the racism around me . . . I felt a calling to become a part of the solution.”

It wasn’t until she attended university at Barnard College that she began to see the legal field as a means to addressing those inequalities, she said. After graduation, Ms. Hopkins became a client advocate at the Harris County public defender’s office in Houston, Tex., which she joined through the national nonprofit Partners for Justice.

Although Ms. Hopkins grew up visiting family in Houston and other parts of the South, she said her work in Houston allowed her to connect with the community in a more meaningful way, developing roots with local grassroots organizations. It’s a from the bottom approach she hopes to continue in her law career.

“I’m hoping to show up and be a part of existing organizations,” she said. “[I’m interested in] seeing systems actually built on care and community instead of punishment and harm.”

Through her work in Houston, she said she’s also prepared herself against the threat of cynicism and burnout that has plagued so many in her line of work.

“So many of my colleagues have become super jaded after seeing how cruel the system is to the people you’re trying to defend,” she said. “I think the biggest challenge will be to not lose hope.”

That’s also where her cohort with the Marshall-Motley program will come in, she said, to keep her grounded. Growing up on an Island, Ms. Hopkins said she received an early lesson in the power of a tight-knit community.

“There were definitely times where I felt isolated, where I was the only Black person in a room, but I also saw how the community came together to support one another time and time again,” she said. “I’m very grateful for that.”