First-Year Law Students Receive Top UVA Law Scholarships, Show Potential to Lead

Jennifer Givens

Isabel Tuz, Liesel Schapira, Thomas Kinzinger, Jennifer Davidson and Willard Younger are among the 36 Hardy Cross Dillard Scholars in the Class of 2018.

August 24, 2015

The UVA Law Class of 2018 includes 36 recipients of the prestigious Hardy Cross Dillard Scholarships, which offer full tuition to a select group of outstanding students.

The scholarships, named after the Law School's fourth dean, are the school's premier awards program and serve as a recruiting tool for applicants who demonstrate the potential for extraordinary leadership.

"We are delighted that this year's Dillard Scholars chose UVA," said Leslie Kendrick , who chairs the Dillard Scholarship Committee and also attended the Law School as a Dillard Scholar. "We want to make sure that students who could go anywhere decide to come here and become part of our community."

First-year students Jennifer Davidson , Thomas Kinzinger , Liesel Schapira , Isabel Tuz and Willard Younger are among this year's Dillard Scholars.

Jennifer Davidson

Hometown: Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania

Education: B.A. in government and women's and gender studies from Dartmouth College

Notable work/educational experience: I spent the summer of 2014 at the Kosova Women's Network, an organization based in Prishtina, Kosovo, that both engages in direct advocacy for the rights of Kosovar women and also supports 93 smaller women's organizations throughout the country. My work included everything from helping with European Union grant applications to updating sections of KWN's strategic plan. I also spent a winter interning with the Center for Women and Enterprise in Boston, where I focused mainly on assisting in outreach for women-owned business certification. Additionally, during college I spent terms studying government at the London School of Economics and Oxford University.

Why law? I've always had a natural attraction to legal issues and judicial cases from an academic standpoint. However, it was through my time at the Kosova Women's Network that I fully grasped the key ways in which lawyers are able to directly contribute to social progress and help individual people's lives. Whether it was through cases involving intimate partner violence, discrimination, improper implementation of the law or just about anything in between, it was clear to me that many of the biggest advancements that have had a direct impact on individual women's lives and women's rights would not have been possible without lawyers. The potential for providing substantive assistance to people is what ultimately confirmed by desire to become a lawyer.

Why UVA Law? I loved Dartmouth because of its commitment to teaching, its strong sense of a cohesive community, its ability to provide distinctive opportunities and its dedicated alumni network. I knew those factors would be just as important to me in a law school as well. In UVA Law, I found all of these aspects fulfilled (and greatly exceeded) in a way far beyond what I thought would be possible in a law school.

What would you like to do with your law degree? My goal is to pursue a public interest career, most likely related to women's rights and more specifically dealing with gender-based violence cases.

Thomas Kinzinger

Hometown: Fullerton, California

Education: B.A. in political science and history from the University of California, Los Angeles

Notable work experience: After graduating, I worked at an immigration law firm, helping research, write and submit client applications for highly competitive visa categories. I additionally worked as a research assistant for a forthcoming book about Theodore Roosevelt and the birth of the state presidential primary system in the lead-up to the 1912 presidential election. As a volunteer, I served as program director for a special program of UCLA's official student charity, bringing teenagers from low-income Los Angeles neighborhoods on a four-day, 26-mile backpacking trip to the top of Southern California's highest mountain.

Why law? Ever since I was a young child answering instructions from parents, teachers and other authority figures with endless repetitions of the question "Why?", I have loved picking apart the reasoning behind our rules and the development of those rule structures over time. In my studies as a history and political science major, I would often discover tantalizing hints of the greater story of the law and how it evolved as people formed societies, created states and institutions, and (in the best parts) struggled to make those systems more equitable, more inclusive and more free. Now as I begin law school, I look forward to delving deep into the history of our legal institutions, thoroughly interrogating the law as it exists today, and finally making some headway on answering my younger self's favorite question.

Why UVA Law? As a born-and-bred Southern Californian, I honestly did not know what to expect from an unfamiliar academic community on the other side of the continent, but when I first stepped through the doors of the law building and began talking to the people who make Virginia Law what it is, I knew I just belongedhere. From the faculty and staff who freely stop and chat in the hallways, the camaraderie and collaborative nature of the students, and the electrifying atmosphere of ideas leaping between open minds, I really could not feel more welcome or grateful to be here at this school.

What would you like to do with your law degree? At the moment, I am leaning towards civil rights work, particularly the defense of voting rights and privacy. However, the one thing I know for certain about the next three years of law school is that I don't know for certain how it will change me, so I plan on keeping an open mind.

Liesel Schapira

Hometown: Weston, Connecticut

Education: B.A. in politics from New York University

Notable work experience: I worked in Mayor Bloomberg's office under his policy adviser during my senior year at NYU. The two policy initiatives I was staffed on were Immigration and Gun Violence reform. After graduating I began a full-time position at JPMorgan, working as a rotating analyst in their Treasury and Investor Services divisions. While at JPM I became the coordinator for our division's relationship with a local domestic violence group, where they focused on economic empowerment as a means to help victims escape their abusers. Concurrently, I began to work with the founder of the Million Mom March, and helped rally NYC locals to take action after major shootings.

Why law? I haven't found anything that excites me, interests me, or frustrates me as much as the law. Working at the NYC Mayor's Office brought to my attention the breadth of work a lawyer can perform in the area of public policy — in addition to advocating for clients one on one, you can lobby for certain causes or become a policy adviser or consultant.

Why UVA Law? UVA Law offers a very unique student experience. The city of Charlottesville provides a safe, peaceful and pervasive academic environment in which to study. Additionally, the care and attention of the community at UVA Law is evident at every level — from the professors, to the admissions officers, to the students.

What would you like to do with your law degree?My work with both gun and domestic violence survivors over the past few years has piqued my interest in laws surrounding both of those issues, as well as the interplay between them. I can see myself being on staff at a nonprofit, or even working as a lobbyist — but I have a lot of other legal interests (clerking, criminal prosecution) that I'm excited to explore at UVA.

Isabel Tuz

Hometown: Charlottesville, Virginia

Education: B.A. in economics from Stanford University

Notable work experience: After graduating, I worked for five years at Bates White, an economic consulting firm that offers analysis and expert legal testimony services. I worked primarily in the Cartels practice area, but also had a chance to work on cases involving mergers, healthcare, finance and IP.

Why law? I found the legal aspects of the cases I worked on at Bates White to be interesting, which led me to pursue a law degree. I also enjoyed the economic and business aspects of my job, so here at UVA I am working toward a joint J.D./MBA degree.

Why UVA Law? Of all of the places I visited, UVA just seemed like the best fit. UVA Law had a great sense of community, and all of my interactions with students and faculty were very positive. Having such strong programs in both law and business was obviously an important factor, too. Last, I grew up in Charlottesville and love it here.

What would you like to do with your law degree? At the moment, I'm tentatively thinking about a career in antitrust law, where the cases would have both economic and legal aspects that I find interesting. Of course, I may end up changing my mind once I have actually taken a couple of classes.

Willard Younger

Hometown: Glen Ridge, New Jersey

Education: B.A. in religion and minor in classics from Colgate University

Notable work experience: After graduating, I worked in government and politics in New York state for three years. I had the opportunity to work in the areas of economic development, infrastructure and public construction, and campaign finance. The experience gave me a deep appreciation of how much energy and effort it takes to make government functional, as well as the complexity of the rules, regulations, policies and procedures that govern the relationships between public entities.

Why law? I have always thought of myself as a problem-solver, and my work experience showed me firsthand that there are so many problems only lawyers can solve. The law opens doors professionally in a way that no other course of study can.

Why UVA Law? For me, the biggest draw at UVA was how happy and friendly the people are, and the environment that creates. I first visited UVA Law in January. On Thursday when I arrived, I told those whom I met that I had been accepted to the Law School. By Saturday, I told them that I would be joining them in the fall. The decision was that easy.

What would you like to do with your law degree? I am interested in transactional work, and I would ideally like to have the opportunity to practice in a setting where I can work with both public and private clients. Some of the most innovative and interesting work I saw in action during my time in government took the form of public-private partnerships, so that is an area that I would like to pursue further.

Founded in 1819, the University of Virginia School of Law is the second-oldest continuously operating law school in the nation. Consistently ranked among the top law schools, Virginia is a world-renowned training ground for distinguished lawyers and public servants, instilling in them a commitment to leadership, integrity and community service.

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