Whitney Carter and Amalia Garcia-Pretelt are this year’s recipients of the Virginia Public Service Scholarships, a full-tuition award given to University of Virginia School of Law students who are pursuing public service careers.

Carter, who graduated from Whitworth University with a major in communications, has worked as a patient care coordinator at the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance and an English as a second language educator with the Peace Corps in Ukraine.

Garcia-Pretelt, who graduated with highest distinction from UVA with a major in political philosophy, policy and law, has worked as a legal assistant with the Virginia Capital Representation Resource Center; secretary of the Foothills Child Advocacy Center board of directors; and as a Spanish-language translator with the Legal Aid Justice Center and Albemarle County victim witnesses.

“Amalia and Whitney come to UVA Law with a deep commitment to public service and a passion for serving their communities,” said Assistant Dean for Public Service Annie Kim ’99, who directs the Program in Law and Public Service. “Their experiences — Whitney teaching village children in the Ukraine and assisting cancer patients and Amalia working for the rights of both death row inmates and victims of crimes — speak to their empathy, range and determination.”

The scholarships, launched in 2017 and funded in part with flagship endowment funds established by Tim ’83 and Lynne Palmer, Dave Burke ’93, and Ted ’92 and Keryn Mathas in honor of former professor Bill Stuntz ’84, are awarded to two or more first-year students based on their commitment to practicing as public service attorneys immediately after graduation, academic excellence and potential for leadership.

Recipients of the scholarship are automatically admitted to the Program in Law and Public Service, which offers intensive training to a select group of UVA Law students seeking to work in the public interest. The program began 10 years ago under the guidance of now-UVA President Jim Ryan ’92, a former professor and vice dean at the Law School.

Carter, of Mill Creek, Washington, said her parents taught her and her sisters that serving others was their most important goal as a family. She hopes to be a public defender after graduation and would like to work in criminal justice reform.

“UVA really has it all for me. I am really excited to be a part of the LPS program and the many clinics that UVA has as well,” Carter said. “Not only am I getting a legal education from professors who, sometimes literally, wrote the book on the subject they’re teaching, but I’m also getting the mentorship opportunities and career guidance that are really just unparalleled.”

Garcia-Pretelt, of Cartagena, Colombia, said she became interested in politics as an undergraduate, and that her parents also instilled in her and her siblings a duty to help others. Being part of a successful clemency campaign for a death-row inmate at the Virginia Capital Representation Resource Center and hearing about a relative being imprisoned in Colombia sparked her interest in assisting inmates as a public defender.

“The Law School’s involvement with the community really stuck with me,” she said, having met students at LAJC, which partners with UVA Law students, primarily through clinical experiences.

“In my process of applying to law schools, I got the feeling that UVA Law genuinely cared about each of their students and this was extremely important for me,” Garcia-Pretelt added. “I was also really interested in the small-scale learning environment provided by the law and public service program, which I am really excited to start next semester.”

Previous Public Service Scholars

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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