Unsung Heroes: These UVA Law Students Made a Difference When Pandemic Forced Changes

Clockwise: Judy Baho ’20, Cat Guerrier ’21, Wilson Miller ’21, Lena Welch ’20, Will Kelly ’21, Jana Ruthberg ’21 and Grace Tang ’21

From top left clockwise, Judy Baho ’20, Cat Guerrier ’21, Wilson Miller ’21, Lena Welch ’20, Will Kelly ’21, Jana Ruthberg ’21 and Grace Tang ’21, and Michael McQueeney ’20 (not pictured), were this year’s “Unsung Heroes.” Photos by Julia Davis and contributed by students

June 11, 2020

When the pandemic changed life at the University of Virginia, law students made a difference in the lives of their peers and in the greater community.

Student Affairs and the Student Bar Association teamed up during the disrupted spring semester to recognize students who went out of their way to show they cared through an effort they called “Unsung Heroes.”

“Particularly at the beginning of the COVID-19 crisis, it was hard to avoid the negative news,” SBA President Katharine Janes ’21 said. “Within our community, though, we knew there were many who faced this challenge with concern for others and profound generosity. We wanted to highlight the incredible work of these people, to both thank them for their efforts and recognize the positive contributions they made to our school and local area."

Will Kelly ’21 and Wilson Miller ’21 did virtual outreach for new students. Kelly went to the Law School during spring break to record a video tour and sent it to admitted students via GroupMe. Miller piloted a test-run of a “virtual Scott Commons” (the commons being a popular spot for mingling) to increase social connectivity, and organized an open house for admitted students with Lambda Law Alliance.

Lena Welch ’20 and Judy Baho ’20 sewed reusable cloth masks for members of the UVA and greater community.

In addition, Welch ran Zoom yoga sessions to keep her fellow students stretching, moving and feeling physically well.

Jana Ruthberg ’21 picked up groceries for anyone who asked, not just seniors or those with health concerns.

Grace Tang ’21 baked cookies, brownies and other sweets for classmates, leaving them as care packages at their front doors.

“She accommodated for my diet restrictions and even offered to deliver to my doorstep,” one student said. “She gave me a reason to step outside and she made my day.”

Cat Guerrier ’21 spent hours packing up and mailing items her roommate, Perrin Tourangeau ’21, needed but couldn’t retrieve from Charlottesville, working over FaceTime.

Michael McQueeney ’20 also looked after the needs of his roommates, both socially and nutritionally, by keeping the group active through gaming and keeping the house stocked during the stay-at-home order.

The SBA hosted the nomination form for Unsung Heroes, while Student Affairs provided gift certificates for the winners, who were announced via internal communications.

“We are always blown away by the kindness and generosity of our students,” said Sarah Davies ’91, the assistant dean for student affairs. “Especially in these unprecedented circumstances, we wanted to call attention to the little things that our students were doing to help others manage better. It all adds up to make our community better.”

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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