Seven outstanding students interested in public service were selected as recipients of $32,500 in scholarship money awarded by The John Marshall Law School Alumni Association.
The presentations were made at the association’s annual meeting in June.
“We had many excellent candidates and were delighted by the level of commitment to public service these students are already undertaking,” said Karie Valentino, chair of the Scholarship Committee. “Outside of law school, they spend an incredible number of hours volunteering with organizations, agencies and government offices, and each one hopes to dedicate himself or herself to a career that will give them satisfaction through public service.”
Scholarships were awarded at the $7,500, $5,000 and $2,500 levels. In addition, donations made it possible to present four students with book scholarships.
Margaret Hillman, a 3L, received a $7,500 scholarship. She is clerking at the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office, Gang Crimes Unit. She also serves as a research assistant in the Lawyering Skills Program, and previously clerked at the firm of James M. Ridge and Associates. Hillman is a member of The John Marshall Law Review and Phi Delta Phi fraternity.
Hillman came to law school after serving with the U.S. Department of State, first as an administrative officer in Washington, D.C., with the Bureau of Near Eastern and South Central Asian Affairs, and then as deputy chief of staff for the Provincial Reconstruction Team in Kandahar, Afghanistan. Hillman drafted the report summary on Afghan President Hamid Karzai’s Battle Damage Commission in the Kandahar Province, and worked with local leaders to create a public infrastructure.
A graduate of St. Ignatius College Prep and Indiana University, Hillman says she is committed to public service.
Nicholas Esterman, a 3L, received a $5,000 scholarship. After graduation, he looks forward to a career in the Army’s Judge Advocate General’s Corps, and is now participating in a summer JAG internship. He also has been a student intern with the Veterans Legal Support Center & Clinic since May 2012.
Esterman, a 2010 graduate of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, served twice as a volunteer teacher in Ghana, and volunteered for Minds Matter, a mentoring program for Chicago youth. At John Marshall, he serves on the John Marshall Journal of Information Technology and Privacy Law, is a Student Bar Association representative, and a member of Phi Delta Phi Honors Society. He was a research assistant for Professor Mark Wojcik, and a teaching assistant for Professor Sonia Green.
Mary Rada Walters, a 3L, received a $5,000 scholarship. She discovered a passion for public service through her volunteer efforts as a judicial extern with Judge Rosemary Grant Higgins in the Criminal Division focusing on the Circuit Court of Cook County’s WINGS rehabilitation program for women convicted of prostitution. Walters finds the work “rewarding” and hopes to continue working within the judicial system after graduating.
At John Marshall, Walters has served on the Trial Advocacy and Dispute Resolution Honors Council, and represented the law school at the ABA Mediation Competition in the spring 2013 semester. She also served on the Moot Court Honors Council, and is active with Phi Delta Phi Honors Society and Phi Alpha Delta law fraternity. She holds memberships in the Bohemian Lawyers Association and the Hellenic Bar Association. Walters received a bachelor’s degree in music from the University of Louisville and taught music to elementary school students before coming to John Marshall.
Sarbani Piya Mukherjee, a 3L, received a $2,500 scholarship. She is completing her law degree at John Marshall and a master’s degree in International Public Service at DePaul University. Her undergraduate degree is from Washington University in St. Louis. She hopes to work in the immigration and family law area.
Mukherjee has dedicated her free time to working with others as a volunteer in the Circuit Court of Cook County’s Domestic Violence Legal Clinic as part of John Marshall’s Restorative Justice class, and with John Marshall’s Pro Bono Program. She completed a term as a Public Interest Fellow at the Indian American Bar Association. This summer, she is in Montana assisting in research on domestic violence against Native American women.
At John Marshall, Mukherjee is a member of Phi Alpha Delta, the Women’s Law Caucus, the Middle Eastern Law Students Association, and the South African Human Rights Project. She also is conducting research on the treatment of immigrants held at detention centers for the joint John Marshall-University of Illinois at Chicago project.
Suhey Ramirez, a 2L, received a $5,000 scholarship. A native of New York City’s Bronx borough she persevered, despite racial and economic hardships, to complete high school and earn a bachelor’s degree from St. John’s University. She came to Chicago to earn a master’s degree in Women’s and Gender Studies from Loyola University-Chicago. Now at John Marshall, Ramirez is member of the Latino Law Students Association and was an instructor in the Academic Enhancement Program. She participated in the American Bar Association Judicial Clerkship Program.
Through her work with daughters of the incarcerated, immigrant women facing domestic violence and youth in need, Ramirez gained insights that strengthened her resolve to focus her legal work on public service. Outside of John Marshall, she is working as a project manager at K.L.E.O. Family Community Life Center in Chicago’s Washington Park neighborhood. The not-for-profit organization works to give residents support to strengthen families through education and training.
Andrew Symns, a 2L, received a $2,500 scholarship. He says John Marshall is a special place because of what it offers evening students, like him. “Despite the odds, this school has provided me the opportunity not only to prove myself, but to succeed.” Symns, a 2L, has been developing an interest in intellectual property law and for a second year is serving as an articles editor for the John Marshall Review of Intellectual Property Law. He also volunteered with the Mortgage Foreclosure Mediation Program in conjunction with John Marshall’s Pro Bono Program.
Symns works 45 to 50 hours a week at a full-time job and part-time as a clerk for the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office. He also continues his volunteer efforts through Omega Chi Epsilon, the National Honor Society of Chemical Engineering. Symns received a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering from Iowa State University, and a Business Management for Engineers Certificate from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
Magdalena Wilk, a 3L, received a $2,500 scholarship. She plans to focus on immigration law after graduation. A native of Poland, Wilk has been using her language skills to assist immigrants in need of legal assistance as a volunteer at Amicus Polonaise Legal Clinc, with the Fr. Gary Graf Center in Waukegan, and as an assistant to John Marshall alumna Jacqueline Herrera Giron at her private practice.
Wilk also has an interest in women’s issues, and was an intern at the Women’s Refugee Committee while in college. Most recently, she helped draft a resolution on the need for transitional housing for sex-trafficking victims. The measure was approved by the American Bar Association’s Young Lawyers Section. She also volunteered at the Domestic Violence Legal Clinic.
In addition, through the generosity of Beck’s Book Store and the firm of Rubin & Norris, four book scholarships were awarded to:
- Margaret Connery, a 3L who is a judicial extern for U.S. District Court Judge Amy St. Eve; a member of The John Marshall Law Review and Moot court Honors Council
- Katerine Gipe, a 3L is a Public Interest Law Initiative (PILI) intern with Chicago Volunteer Legal Services this summer; volunteers at the Domestic Violence Legal Clinic and Cabrini Green Legal Aid; is president of the Women’s Law Caucus, and a member of Phi Delta Phi Legal Honors Society
- Michael Manseau, a 3L externing with the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office, Special Prosecutions Bureau; teaching assistant to Professor Rogelio Lasso
- Quintin Saffold, a 2L evening division student, interning with the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office; Student Bar Association representative; member of Black Law Students Association; Phi Delta Phi Legal Honors Society and Phi Alpha Delta Fraternity