Three First-Year Students Receive School's Top Scholarships
Three members of the Class of 2015 have received the University of Virginia School of Law's most prestigious scholarships.
Elizabeth D'Aunno and Lide Paterno received Hardy Cross Dillard scholarships, which are named in honor of the Law School's fifth dean, a 1927 graduate and retired judge of the International Court of Justice.
Sarah Nolan was named a Jefferson Law Fellow. Jefferson Fellowships are awarded University-wide in recognition of leadership, scholarship and citizenship.
Both the Dillard and Jefferson Law Fellow scholarships provide full tuition to recipients.
Hometown: Iowa City, Iowa
Education: B.A. in political science from Stanford University
Notable work experience: As an Obama for America advance staffer, I helped plan and manage nearly 100 of then-Sen. [Barack] Obama's public events leading up to the 2008 Iowa caucus. After graduation, I was a volunteer for the White House, during which time I traveled to help run domestic and overseas events for President Obama and Vice President [Joe] Biden. I then served as a policy analyst for the Department of Defense, developing initiatives to detect violent insider threats. Last year I also spent time as a contractor to the National Security Division of the Department of Justice, helping to write a strategic plan to assist cabinet-level decisions to prevent imminent terrorist attacks inside the United States.
Why law? I arrived at the Pentagon shortly after the 2009 shooting at Fort Hood, Texas, and joined a team tasked with finding ways to detect and thwart insider threats to our military. This task begged many questions about the extent to which government can, or should, seek and store information on those suspected of being violent extremists. I could not help but think that if I knew more about the law, I could recommend better tools to combat homegrown security threats without compromising core American values.
Why Virginia Law? UVA Law’s academic reputation and rich tradition of public service first attracted me to the school, but there’s no better advertisement than the strong affection shared by students, alumni and faculty for this community. I feel very lucky to finally be here, making my home in Charlottesville and getting to know my wonderful classmates.
What do you want to do with your degree? I hope to work in public service in the field of national security law and policy.
Hometown: I moved to Charlottesville from Charlotte, N.C. But this is always a tricky question for me — I grew up moving often, mainly splitting time between Brussels, Belgium and the Carolinas.
Education: A.B. from Princeton University with a concentration in economics and certificates in French and political economy
Notable work experience: Immediately after college, I carried out a range of community development, education, and refugee-related projects through a yearlong postgraduate fellowship in Tanzania. I subsequently worked in the Office of the Legal Adviser at the U.S. Department of State, where I was really fortunate to support and learn from a phenomenal team of attorneys primarily advising U.S. policymakers on issues related to economic and business affairs and representing the United States government in cases arising out of international claims and investment disputes. I also had the opportunity to conduct rotations in Africa, serving in the political section of the U.S. embassy in Lesotho and as part of the advance team that supported the president’s visit to Ghana.
My work experience transitioned from an international focus to a domestic focus when I moved to the Carolinas in 2009 to assist my dad with a new business venture that aims to boost the economic development of the rural Pee Dee region. For the past two years, I have had the privilege of serving alongside smart, passionate attorneys as a child advocate at the Council for Children’s Rights, a wonderful nonprofit organization doing tremendous work for kids faced with difficult situations in and around Charlotte, N.C.
Why law? My experiences in Tanzania confronted me with questions about how to challenge systems that cripple people I know and love and how to reform structures that marginalize whole populations. Working in the Office of the Legal Adviser and at the Council for Children’s Rights showed me on global and local levels that the law can be a robust tool to pull individuals and communities out of those margins. Having been able to learn from fantastic attorneys working across a wide spectrum of issues — from defending government legislation enacted to protect public health or safeguard religious rights, to representing teens in juvenile court or students who were needlessly suspended because of their disabilities, to negotiating treaties and trade agreements that created opportunity and opened markets — I have witnessed the power of the law to break down social, political and economic boundaries. I am excited to pursue a legal degree because my experiences have taught me that the law affects real people, links seemingly disparate worlds, and uniquely bridges what was with what is, and what could and should be.
Why Virginia Law? I came to Virginia Law well aware of how distinctive this community is in coupling stellar academics and genuine camaraderie, based on the unequivocal appreciation and unmatched enthusiasm with which all my friends who attended UVA Law speak of their time in Charlottesville and the great respect with which attorneys always speak so highly of the collegiality of UVA alumni. In my short time here in Charlottesville, I have already been so impressed by and grateful for this unique balance: Our professors are passionate and personal; our classmates are fascinating, smart and encouraging; and the upperclassmen have been so uplifting and welcoming, going out of their way to show how excited they are for us to join them in this community. I really look forward to these next three years!
What would you like to do with your law degree? I would love to be able to combine my interests in international law, human rights and economic development. But I appreciate that law has such a wide range of applicability, and I am excited that Virginia Law will expose me to many different facets that are now totally unfamiliar to me.
Hometown: Fairfax, Va.
Education: B.A. in music with a minor in Hispanic studies from the College of William & Mary; M.A. in music theory from the University of Wisconsin, Madison.
Notable work experience: As a teaching assistant during graduate school, I learned the challenges of being on the other side of a classroom. My students quickly showed me the importance of being prepared and communicating clearly, skills that are equally important in a legal career.
Why law? I became interested in copyright law when I did a summer internship at the Library of Congress during college. I was fascinated by the system of rules for awarding trademarks and copyrights, and as a musician I liked the idea of helping composers protect their rights to their works. Working on my master’s in music theory, I learned more about what intellectual approaches most appeal to me, and regardless of what type of law I ultimately practice, I think I will enjoy the legal approach of constructing arguments within a framework of rules.
Why Virginia Law? I was drawn in first by UVA’s academic reputation, but what sold it for me was the selection of student organizations. It seemed like the students were really imaginative and motivated, and I was confident that I would find a lot of people here with interests and values similar to my own.
What would you like to do with your law degree? After working in a purely theoretical field for several years, I am now eager to be able to apply the things I learn in the classroom to situations that affect people’s lives. I would like to have a career in public service; right now I’m thinking about working in local government, but I will probably change my mind a few times before I graduate.