Celebrating the Class of 2020

Read Up on Virtual Ceremony Details, Graduates Who’ve Left a Lasting Impact
UVA Law from the air

Photo by Robert Llewellyn

May 14, 2020

As the University of Virginia community prepares to celebrate the Class of 2020 at the Virtual Celebration and Degree Conferral on Saturday, we’ve collected stories about graduating students to honor their achievements.

Profiles on Graduating Students

Goal-Oriented Student Pivots as Paralympics Reschedule
Blind athlete Matt Simpson is a study in handling life’s challenges with grace.

Former SBA President Leads With a Can-Do Spirit
Jasmine Lee has served as an ambassador for UVA Law in multiple ways during her three years here.

Future JAG Officer Believes in Service Above Self
Manal Cheema will take her expertise in national security law with her into the military as an officer in the Navy Judge Advocate General’s Corps.

First-Gen Professional Pursues Career in Prosecution
Going from a small town to a big city prosecutor’s office wasn’t an easy path for Brooke Swann.

19th Powell Fellow Jackson To Represent Immigrant Children
Kevin Jackson ’20 will help support immigrant children in Georgia’s foster care system as the 19th Powell Fellow in Legal Services.

S.J.D. Graduate Returns to Kuwait as Law Professor
Maha Albesharah joined the law faculty at Kuwait University after graduating in December.

3Ls Part of Winning International Tax Law Moot Court Team
Allen Braddock, Michael Olson and Eleanor Schmalzl and student coach Griffin Peeples were a part of UVA Law’s International and European Tax Moot Court championship team this year. Peeples was also part of the 2019 championship team.

Lee Receives Rosenbloom Award
Jasmine Lee received the Law School’s Rosenbloom Award, established to honor students with a strong academic record who have significantly enhanced the academic experience of their peers.

Dickman, Mers Win 91st Lile Moot Court Competition
Henry Dickman and Megan Mers won the 91st William Minor Lile Moot Court Competition.

Aimonetti, Talley Win Writing Competition
Justin Aimonetti and Christian Talley won the annual White River Environmental Law Writing Competition, then donated their winnings to UVA contractors and employees.

Seagears Receives 2020 Swanson Award
Erin Seagears was named this year’s recipient of the Gregory H. Swanson Award, which recognizes a commitment to justice within the community.

St Julien Receives 2019 Swanson Award
Michele St Julien was named the 2019 recipient of the Gregory H. Swanson Award, named in honor of UVA and the Law School’s first black student.

Fulbright Scholars Garay, Hajj, Muñoz Join 2020 LL.M. Class
Three Fulbright scholars — Sebastián Garay of Argentina, Marilyn Hajj of Lebanon and Charlotte Montory Muñoz of Chile — were among the 65 students from 19 countries participating in the Graduate Studies Program for 2019-20.

Cain, Cheema, Mills and Kaloyeropoulou Named Ritter Scholars
Molly Cain, Manal Cheema, Eleanora Kaloyeropoulou and Read Mills were honored with the Mary Claiborne and Roy H. Ritter Prizes, which recognize third-year students who best exemplify the qualities of honor, character and integrity envisioned by Thomas Jefferson when he founded UVA.

Toulme Leads Virginia Law Review
Laura Toulme served as editor-in-chief of the Virginia Law Review during a year when all top 14 law reviews had women as leaders.

Postcards From Abroad

Swann’s Fellowship Takes Her to Johannesburg
Brooke Swann ’20 used her Monroe Leigh Fellowship in International Law grant to work at the Southern Africa Litigation Centre in Johannesburg.

Houston Explores Israeli Legal System
Sarah Houston reported on her fall semester studying abroad in Israel.

Exchange Student Bakillah Goes ‘Down Under’
Zeinab Bakillah reports on her fall semester studying abroad in Sydney, Australia.

Star Witnesses

Phipps Graduates as Part of Multigenerational Legacy
Sara Phipps is completing a legacy as a member of the first multigenerational black family with both parents to have attended UVA Law.

Black Goes From Classroom to Courtroom
Nellie Black discusses how she carried lessons learned with the Prosecution Clinic into the courtroom.

First Thinking Business, Ramadan Dives Into Law School
Kareem Ramadan discusses his interest in scuba diving and why he chose law over business.

Rennert Prepares for White-Collar Criminal Defense Work
Jessica Rennert discusses how her path in law school took shape.

Seagears Yearns To Be Voice for Children
Erin Seagears explains why working with children convinced her to become a juvenile public defender.

Swanson, on Changing the Playbook
If Amanda Swanson couldn’t play for her coaching idol, she could write about her contributions to women’s athletics and sports law instead.

Life Outside the Law

Welch Takes Flight While Staying Grounded
Lena Welch takes life outside of law school to new heights as an aerial yoga instructor.

Tax Moot Court Champ Braddock Enjoys His Daily Grind
Coffee aficionado Allen Braddock, an International and European Tax Moot Court competitor, shares what he appreciates about a good cup of joe.

LL.M. Student Harada Finds Work-Life Balance at UVA Law
Kanji Harada is a practicing lawyer in Japan who decided to take a break and pursue a path many corporate lawyers in his country take — getting an LL.M. degree in the United States.

Year One

Cheema, Deuster Are First Public Service Scholars
Manal Cheema and Suzanne Deuster were recipients of the inaugural Virginia Public Service Scholarship.

Students Receive Top Scholarship for Leadership
The Class of 2020 included a record number of recipients of the prestigious Hardy Cross Dillard Scholarships. In 2017, 43 students were awarded the scholarship.

Promise of Community Draws Class of 2020 to UVA Law
Members of the Class of 2020 started their legal careers are looking forward to building a tight-knit community as they head into the classroom today at the Law School.

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.

Media Contact

Mike Fox
Director of Media Relations
mfox@law.virginia.edu / (434) 982-6832

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