The Class of 2019 includes 26 recipients of the prestigious Hardy Cross Dillard Scholarships, which offer full tuition to a select group of incoming students at the University of Virginia School of Law.
The prestigious 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.
"We are delighted to welcome this year’s class of Dillard Scholars," said Leslie Kendrick, who chairs the Dillard Scholarship Committee and attended the Law School as a Dillard Scholar. "Every year, students who could go to law school anywhere decide to come to UVA. The Dillard Scholarship helps to make that happen, through the generous support of our alumni. We have a very special community, and these students will add to it through their leadership and service."
First-year students Cameron Duncan, Hunter Hampton, Rachel Gallagher, Ben Kramer and John Kurtz are among this year’s Dillard Scholars.
Hometown: Great Falls, Virginia
Education: Barnard College at Columbia University, sociocultural anthropology
Notable work/educational experience: After graduation I had the opportunity to start work in the Exhibitions Department of the National September 11 Memorial & Museum in New York. It was an incredibly challenging experience, especially as we got the museum ready to open to the public, but it was also wonderful to be surrounded by people who were intensely committed to what they were creating and the community that they inhabited. Plus I actually got to use my anthropology degree.
Why law? Since I was little I have always been incredibly passionate about justice. Although my idea of what justice means has evolved, and continues to, the potential to advocate for some measure of justice on behalf of those who might not otherwise receive it is both exciting and incredibly empowering, and I believe that the law provides that.
Why UVA Law? I was lucky enough to have some insight into the UVA Law community as I grew up because my dad is an alumnus, so I saw firsthand what a lasting impact this school can have on a person's life, through far more than just the academics. But on a more personal note, what really made the decision for me was that while I was visiting the school, several different students told me that they had never had as many close friends with whom they disagreed on fundamental sociopolitical issues as they do at UVA Law, and that ability to have constructive, varied and respectful discourse both inside and outside of the classroom really spoke to me.
What would you like to do with your law degree? I'm interested in the human and/or civil rights of persons with disabilities and hope to practice in that area, but I don't know in exactly what capacity yet. I'm looking forward to finding my niche as I go through the next few years, and possibly the rest of my career.
What are you looking forward to the most about the upcoming year? I'm honestly excited about pretty much everything, so it's a bit hard to choose! I will say that I'm very much looking forward to the new adventure.
Hometown: Keller, Texas
Education: Texas A&M University, economics and international studies
Notable work experience: I interned at the Institut für Europäische Politik in Berlin, Germany, where I reviewed and translated documents, assisted in event management and aided in research projects.
Why law? I chose to study law because I’m not afraid of paperwork. Alongside that, I’m really fascinated by the way law is interpreted, especially on a linguistic level. You can boil down the critical analysis of the logic and implication of laws into its most basic constituent parts, where it then becomes a kind of verbal math.
Why UVA Law? UVA knows to prioritize its human side. At Virginia, it seems the emphasis on personal bonds and unity trumps even its impressive academics, and I really like that kind of humility.
What would you like to do with your law degree? At the moment, the path I’ve imagined leads to a position in Big Law, at least for a little while, followed perhaps by government service. That being said, I imagine all this will change within the first week or two of classes.
What are you looking forward to the most about the upcoming year? I’m honestly looking forward to classes. For me, most of my undergrad classes taught very broad, general subjects, like macroeconomics. The courses I enjoyed the most were those with a greater degree of specificity and applicability, like statistics. Contracts and Torts sound very specific and applicable, but I’m sure I’ll be surprised at just how complex, and thus necessarily broad, they really are.
Hometown: Castroville, Texas
Education: Norwich University, international studies
Notable work experience: Senior private military college, study abroad in China, intern for a disaster relief organization in Chengdu, China.
Why law? I decided to pursue a law degree because humanitarian organizations often need individuals with the skills a law degree will award: critical thinking, effective communication and an eye for important details. I wanted to pursue a career in the international nonprofit field and so, on the advice of a mentor at the nonprofit for which I interned, I began to seriously consider law school.
Why UVA Law? The outstanding reputation of UVA’s Program in Law and Public Service is what initially drew me to the school, but it’s the genuine sense of community at UVA that made it my top choice. From the open-door policy of professors to the way the Class of 2019 has already come together both online and in person, I am certain that I’ve made the right decision.
What would you like to do with your law degree? I would like to gain more experience in the public service sector, although I don’t yet know whether I intend to actually practice law or just build on the experiences UVA will give me.
What are you looking forward to the most about the upcoming year? I’m excited to get a feel for the classes and am also looking forward to meeting my fellow 1Ls and becoming a part of the UVA Law community.
Hometown: Potomac, Maryland
Education: University of Maryland, government and politics, history
Notable work experience: A few days after I graduated college, I packed my car with a few suitcases and drove to meet Gov. Martin O’Malley and our then very small staff at a union hall in Davenport, Iowa, for the first of dozens of presidential campaign events throughout the Hawkeye State. I slept on couches in small towns, met caucus-goers in cozy coffee shops that dotted proud, close-knit communities, and made more phone calls and knocked on more doors in negative 20-degree wind chills than I care to count. Our campaign was not successful, but I learned a lot about America and met some incredible people during my eight-month journey as an organizer — the hard-working farmer who tills the soil on the same land his family has lived on for generations, the woman who owns the daycare center but has not taken a paycheck for months so she is able to pay her employees a decent wage, the school teacher who spends his own money and countless hours of his personal time to ensure that his students can achieve their biggest ambitions.
Why law? My first-grade teacher called me "Sherlock” because I asked so many questions. I have always been interested in why questions are answered the way they are — why some arguments are more persuasive than others and how arbiters and judges reach decisions when adversaries each present compelling cases.
Why UVA Law? The people. My dad is a lawyer, and growing up I heard stories about over-stressed, disappointed, frustrated lawyers — people who hated law school, hated their jobs, and even some who abandoned the practice of law altogether and deemed themselves “recovering.” Then, I found UVA. I met law students who were happy to be in law school and who were excited to become lawyers — who formed a community that was friendly, collegial and mutually supportive, while also ambitious and hard-working. I met alumni who carry fond memories of their time at UVA Law, who enjoy being lawyers, and who continuously give back to a school and community they love.
What would you like to do with your law degree? Lawyers have told me that law school will change the way I look at the world. I imagine then that law school will also alter my professional ambitions. I am interested in First Amendment issues such as freedom of speech and press, though I am keeping an open mind as to what path I want to forge for myself in the law.
What are you looking forward to the most about the upcoming year? Again, the people. I cannot wait to get to know my classmates. I am so fortunate to be entering a community filled with so many brilliant, talented and driven students — each of whom has their own unique set of motivations for attending law school, their own career aspirations and their own series of interesting life experiences.
Hometown: Sugar Land, Texas
Education: New York University, politics and philosophy, minor in economic policy
Notable work experience: I established and managed a nationwide campus outreach program for a nonprofit organization dedicated to advancing the principles of a free society, which allowed me to travel the country with some of America's leading journalists and public intellectuals.
Why law? Lawyers are distinct from other professionals in that they are uniquely qualified to fight for justice, resolve conflicts and find solutions to problems that allow people to be treated fairly and live in a stable and prosperous society. As someone who has gone through difficulties in my own personal life and needed help to get through them, I want to be able to offer my help and fight for those who find themselves facing hardships.
Why UVA Law? In addition to attracting some of the nation's brightest students, UVA Law seems to foster a sense of community and camaraderie among its students that is unmatched by other law schools. Add in the Dillard Scholarship, plus the experience of living in a beautiful place like Charlottesville, and I was sold..
What would you like to do with your law degree? While I'm not entirely sure of what kind of law I'd like to practice just yet, I know for certain that I want to use my degree to help improve the lives of other people.
What are you looking forward to the most about the upcoming year? Learning a lot alongside a group of incredibly talented and friendly folks.
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.