Record Number of 1L Students Receive Top UVA Law Scholarship for Leadership
The Class of 2020 included a record number of recipients of the prestigious Hardy Cross Dillard Scholarships. This year, 43 students were awarded the scholarship, which offers full tuition to a select group of incoming students at the University of Virginia School of Law.
The scholarships are named after the Law School’s fourth dean and serve as a recruiting tool for applicants who demonstrate the potential for extraordinary leadership.
“Through the generosity of the Law School’s alumni and supporters, we are delighted to welcome the largest class of Dillard Scholars on record,” said Vice Dean Leslie Kendrick, who previously chaired the Dillard Scholarship Committee and attended the Law School as a Dillard Scholar. “Students who could go to law school anywhere are choosing to come to UVA. We are proud of all the opportunities that we offer, and we could not be happier that the members of the Class of 2020 chose to make UVA their home.”
First-year students Justin Aimonetti, Margaret Booz, Courtney Davis, Eric Dement and Isabelle Lelogeais are among this year's Dillard Scholars.
Justin W. Aimonetti
Hometown: Redwood City, California
Education: Columbia College at Columbia University, history and political science
Notable work/educational experience: I spent the summer of 2015 working at DLA Piper as a paralegal. The following summer I worked as a compliance analyst at Barclays in New York. This summer I worked in the legal department at the Silicon Valley headquartered tech-company, Equinix. My varied work experience — having worked for a multinational law firm, a global bank and a thriving tech company — has broadened my perspective and hopefully my future employment prospects.
Why study law? No one in my family is a lawyer, and my parents and grandparents often wonder what sparked my interest in the law. My passion for the law originated early on in high school. I recall being fascinated with legal history, the historical development of the Constitution and the role of the Supreme Court. At Columbia, I had several terrific professors who encouraged me to go to law school and further explore my interests. I am also keenly aware of the important role lawyers have played, and continue to play, in shaping American society.
Why UVA Law? I fell in love with UVA Law at first sight. If you have the opportunity to visit Grounds, do so. Fortunately, I was able to attend the Admitted Students Weekend and over the course of several days I was overwhelmed by the Southern hospitality. Everyone was cordial, talkative and welcoming. Additionally, the school is aesthetically magnificent and felt like an exceptional place to learn, study and become a lawyer.
As a Californian who was educated in the Northeast, I was in search of a fresh and unique educational atmosphere. UVA Law provides an academic, social and cultural experience unmatched by its peers. Finally, doors in the legal world open wide to UVA Law graduates. I intend to explore every opportunity UVA Law creates, and has created, for its notable and extraordinary alums.
What would you like to do with your law degree? I am currently focused on surviving 1L! Honestly, the path I envision for myself leads to a clerkship and then a career in litigation, and maybe government service down the road. Nonetheless, my plans are subject to change and I am always open to suggestions and advice.
What are you looking forward to the most in your first year of law school? This is my first time attending school as just a student and not as a student-athlete, so I am looking forward to becoming actively involved in clubs, organizations and student government. Furthermore, I am excited to learn more about my classmates, and in particular, their past accomplishments and their future plans. Most of all I am eager to experience and enjoy Charlottesville and all the awesomeness Jefferson’s hometown has to offer.
Hometown: Winston-Salem, North Carolina
Education: Duke University, English and psychology
Notable work/educational experience: I spent the past two summers teaching sixth-grade English for Student U, an education-access organization in Durham, North Carolina, that works with first-generation college-bound students. I worked with some amazing students, while simultaneously seeing how policies succeed and fail within the context of a particular social system. Additionally, I spent a summer living in rural South Carolina working on issues surrounding race and poverty through internships at the county library and county museum.
Why study law? I love working with the written word, and law provides the perfect opportunity to harness language to effect change. I want a career that is intellectually stimulating but also practical. I hope that a legal education will provide me with a deeper understanding of how the law organizes society, and that I will be able to use this knowledge to help others navigate our institutions and improve their lives.
Why UVA Law? After witnessing the energy and enthusiasm of the close-knit community at UVA, the choice was made for me. I wanted to go to a school where I would not only receive a world-class legal education, but also grow as a person and forge meaningful connections with my classmates and professors. It also didn't hurt that my father is an alumnus, so I grew up hearing about how much he loved UVA and seeing how this community stays with you for the rest of your life.
What would you like to do with your law degree? My heart is with public interest and government work, specifically education law and child advocacy. I also find appellate work fascinating. However, I’m still very much seeing where law school leads me.
What are you looking forward to the most in your first year of law school? I’m looking forward to everything, but especially to forming deep and lasting friendships with my classmates. I am excited to learn and grow alongside such brilliant, passionate and grounded people.
Education: Baylor University, psychology and statistics
Notable work/educational experience: Research assistant in social psychology and cognitive neuroscience/psychology labs at Baylor University; research assistant at Center of Excellence for Research on Returning War Veterans at the Veterans Affairs hospital in Waco, Texas; health policy intern in the budget and policy division of the Office of the Texas Governor
Why study law? I enjoy interdisciplinary learning. In an attempt to gain a more developed understanding of a given topic, I like to engage with various disciplines on that subject and see how these disciplines complement each other. Through my educational experiences, I came to realize that the law informed and/or engaged with nearly every topic I studied and problem I pondered. Studying law is an integral next step in my interdisciplinary educational process. The goal is that I will be equipped to use my knowledge of the law and other subjects to address the legal and social questions that interest me.
Why UVA Law? UVA is unique among all of the law schools I considered. I did not have any bad experiences with the other law schools. However, UVA distinguished itself by far in how the admissions team communicated with me. I really felt that they wanted me to be a part of this community and I believed that I would fit well into it.
What would you like to do with your law degree? Given my educational background, I do have a particular interest in health law relating to mental health. However, I am embracing this completely new experience, and I am excited to learn about all types of law. For now, I am keeping an open mind about what, specifically, I will do with my law degree.
What are you looking forward to the most in your first year of law school? I am looking forward to the challenges of living in a new city, meeting new people, and learning new things and the personal growth that will result from it.
Hometown: Centennial, Colorado
Education: Colorado State University, civil engineering
Notable work/educational experience: I worked at a civil engineering firm for two years prior to starting law school. I designed land development projects for large multi-family and commercial projects.
Why study law? I have always wanted to help bring about positive change in our society. Learning how the law came to be, why the law is a certain way and how it affects people is pivotal to understanding how I can best help and serve others.
Why UVA Law? UVA was unique among all the schools that I visited. While most the schools I visited had friendly people, no other school had the amount of camaraderie within the student body or loyalty from its alumni. Every alumnus I talked to mentioned how much they enjoyed their time in law school. I’m also an outdoorsy person, so Charlottesville and the surrounding area were big draws for me.
What would you like to do with your law degree? I have been asked this question a lot and my response every time is that I am trying to keep my mind open. If my past experiences are any indication, my interests will probably change once I have taken some more classes, so I want to make sure that I don’t narrow what I want to study before I have even taken any courses. With all that being said, I am interested in constitutional and international law, as well as litigation.
What are you looking forward to the most in your first year of law school? Meeting new friends and exploring the surrounding area. Plus I’ll admit that I am a nerd, so I am really looking forward to learning alongside my classmates.
Hometown: New York City
Education: Rice University, English literature philosophy
Notable Work Experience: For six months this past spring and summer, I worked as a judicial intern with Justice Evelyn Keyes of the Court of Appeals for the First District of Texas. During my time at the court, I was challenged to think deeply about legal questions and to examine difficult issues from a variety of perspectives, often finding the most value in viewpoints that were unintuitive for me. This experience gave me incredible exposure to legal research and the appellate process, and I am grateful for my time there.
Why Study Law: At university, I studied English and philosophy and found a comfortable home in the world of words and ideas. In the years between college and law school, I learned that being comfortable was not enough for me. Now at the beginning of my legal education, I am deeply motivated to use my passion for ideas and the words that convey them as tools of change to shape the world around me. The study of law, especially at a place like Virginia, will give me the perspective, knowledge and training I require to confront the problems that inspire me.
Why UVA? During my search, I was looking for a school that would provide me with the best possible legal education. I also wanted to find a place where I could focus on gaining a deep understanding of the law, with the support of a likeminded community and without the distraction of superfluous competition. While I have only been here a few weeks, I am confident that UVA Law provides a combination of academic rigor and community support unique among top law schools. It is a combination that I am confident not only produces exceptional lawyers, but also exceptional colleagues and people.
What would you like to do with your law degree? I am deeply interested in criminal law, especially at the federal level, and aspire to be a federal prosecutor. My ultimate goal is to become a federal judge.
What are you looking forward to most in your first year of law school? I am most looking forward to forming strong friendships with my classmates and to learning everything that I can from my professors.