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57 law students win Foundation scholarships

As president of Whittier Law School’s Public Interest Law Foundation, third-year student Katherine David spends up to 20 hours a week helping raise money to enable other students to accept summer placements in public interest work. A fund-raising auction she headed last year raised $42,000 that provided grants for 15 students.

“She engages in amazing amounts of philanthropic work to help other people go to programs,” said Scott Wylie, Associate Dean for External Affairs and clinics director. “Usually there’s a smidge of self-interest or a desire to get a job” when students undertake such efforts, he said, but David already has a guaranteed summer stipend for working at the Center for Children’s Rights and does not benefit personally from the fund-raising.

She also has volunteered for organizations such as the family law court, Children’s Hospital of Orange County and the Lamoreaux Justice Center.

In recognition of her ongoing commitment to public service, as well as an outstanding academic record, David received a $7,500 scholarship from the Foundation of the State Bar last month.

Other winners have equally impressive resumes. UCLA Law School student Colin Bailey has worked for Communities for a Better Environment, Share the Wealth Coalition, the World Health Organization and the California Environmental Protection Agency. Yael Zakai, a Stanford Law School Public Interest Fellow, has interned with the Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice and the Detention Diversion Advocacy Project. Boalt Hall student Claudia Medina worked for the United Farm Workers, the AFL-CIO and the Legal Aid Society in San Francisco. All three received $7,500 scholarships.

Others donated their time to homeless veterans, high-risk juveniles and victims of rape and domestic violence. They volunteered their services to southern California fire victims, the California Innocence Project and at-risk children. They worked for causes such as housing rights, conflict resolution, environmental protection and disability rights. The organizations benefiting from their good will and fledgling expertise are too numerous to list.

The foundation awarded scholarships to 57 law students at 17 California law schools: 14 $7,500 exceptional merit awards, 11 $5,000 superior merit awards and 32 $2,500 merit awards, totaling $240,000. 2004 marks the 12th anniversary of the scholarship program, and during that time $1,432,500 has been awarded to 365 students. The recipients were enrolled at 24 different law schools.

In addition to financial need and academic achievement, candidates must demonstrate a commitment to public service. The exceptional merit awards go to students who demonstrate outstanding academic achievement as well as a sustained commitment to public service, often while overcoming personal hardships and obstacles.

The Foundation of the State Bar seeks and provides funding for programs and projects that educate the public about their rights and responsibilities under the law, encourages ventures that increase access to the legal system for the poor and middle class, and supports law-related causes. California lawyers may contribute when they pay their bar dues by checking off a box on the fee statement.

The scholarships are underwritten by corporate sponsors UPS, Chase Home Finance, MBNA America, Affinity Financial, Subscription Services, e-GRAD and West, a Thomson company.

A partial list of the recipients follows:

  • $7,500 exceptional merit scholarship — Danielle Colon, Loyola Law School; Yael Zakai, Stanford Law School; Jane Heath, University of San Francisco Law School; Marianna Aue and Claudia Medina, Boalt Hall; Troy Anderson, Colin Bailey, Maryam Judar and Laureen Laglagaron, UCLA Law School; Kimberly Baker, University of Southern California Law School; and Seni Baeza, Katherine David, Danette Gomez and Courtney Overland, Whittier Law School.
  • $5,000 superior merit scholarship — Laura Pennelle, California Western Law School; Grace Davies, Loyola Law School; Johanna Hoffman, New College Law School; Nicole Aeschleman and Alaric Degrafinried, Santa Clara Law School; Nathaniel Garrett and David Sapp, Stanford; Greta Hansen and Sumayyah Waheed, Boalt; and Kathleen Ford and Joshua Reiten, University of California at Davis Law School.

Thirty-two students received $2,500 merit scholarships.

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