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Unlocking Potential

Monday, July 29, 2019

Gould students are inspired by alumni engagement and catalyzed by their scholarship support.

By Stephanie Lertzman

“The thought of going to law school thousands of miles away from my family in Michigan came with many worries. The idea that a donor believed in me before I even set foot on USC’s campus meant the world to me,” recalls Shelby Palmer, a 3L who earned her bachelor’s degree at Spelman College. Palmer is a recipient of Gould’s Crispus Attucks Wright Law Scholarship Endowment.

“The financial impact is invaluable, and it has made my Gould degree attainable,” she says. This September, Palmer will be a first-year associate in the litigation department at Katten Muchin Rosenman pursuing entertainment law, an interest she developed through prior internships at Starz, Mattel and USC Gould’s Intellectual Property and Technology Law Clinic.

A scholarship’s impact, along with the sense of community that emanates from it, can provide immeasurable benefits.

“It is easy to think scholarships only help students from a financial standpoint, but it means so much more than that,” Palmer says, mentioning the special bond among students and donors. “Connecting with scholarship benefactors and families, whether by phone, email or in person is both humbling and rewarding.”

Crispus Attucks Wright (LLB 1938) was a civil law attorney in South-Central Los Angeles for 50 years. He endowed the scholarship to provide financial support for academically qualified and financially deserving African American students and others interested in practicing law in under represented communities.

For Palmer, meeting Wright’s family at the annual Scholarship Donor Appreciation Luncheon was a highlight of her experience. “It really made the scholarship personal. Learning this scholarship honors a trailblazing AfricanAmerican gives me a bonus source of inspiration and gratitude for those who have come before me.”

With this vote of confidence, scholarships often give students the courage, curiosity and freedom to develop their legal interests and find new ones.

“Receiving the Judge Dickran Tevrizian Scholarship Endowment [at Gould] has truly meant the world to me,” says Ryan Montag, a 2L, who entered Gould with a bachelor’s degree from USC Thornton’s Music Industry program, intending to become an entertainment attorney. While actively pursuing a Media and Entertainment Law Certificate at Gould, in addition to his JD, Montag’s recent participation in the Hale Moot Court piqued a new interest in litigation, inspiring a shift he intends to explore.

From left to right: Anthony P. Martin, Shelby Palmer (JD 2019), Jo Anne W. McKenzie, 2L Michael Ball and 3L Aaron Morris, photographed at the annual scholarship luncheon.

“I decided to make a somewhat drastic change in an effort to broaden my horizons. I am extremely excited to say that I will be working in the U.S. Coast Guard JAG program this summer. I cannot wait to see what sort of unique challenges JAG attorneys face, and I hope to learn a great deal both personally and professionally from the experience.”

 Such exploration of a wide range of professional opportunities is a hallmark of USC Gould.

“Today’s evolving legal market requires us to provide students with a strong theoretical foundation and dynamic experiential learning opportunities,” says Dean Andrew T. Guzman. “Our focus is on preparing students to begin their careers with enthusiasm, clear direction and adaptability that come from taking advantage of every possible opportunity, not limited or stifled by finances, as they pursue a legal education.”

“I quite simply wouldn’t be at Gould without Judge Tevrizian’s generosity,” says Montag.

Montag attributes his scholarship as a key factor in his personal and professional development.

“I am tremendously grateful to attend Gould with the peace of mind that I can continue to learn and grow at one of the nation’s top legal institutions without the fear of debt looming over me,” he remarks. “Knowing I didn’t have to cut corners in my legal education due to financial concerns gives me confidence I will become the best lawyer I can be, to make a positive difference in the world.”

Dean Guzman describes scholarship support as playing a vital role — even the tipping point — in attracting and retaining the highest quality of students. “We want our students to focus on their rigorous academic coursework and compete for job opportunities by devoting time to internships, clerkships, research and immersive experiences such as law journals, clinics and moot court. Scholarships help make all of that possible.”

“Whether an endowed scholarship in perpetuity or an immediate-use scholarship gift,” he added, “the support is incredibly important, deeply impactful to our students and very much appreciated.”

Alumni annual donors Steve Mindel (JD 1985) and Nancy Mindel (BS 1983/JD 1986) feel fortunate to have graduated from USC Gould.

“The friends we have made through our connection to USC Gould have been invaluable,” the Mindels say. Steve, a certified family law specialist and the managing partner of FMBK, shares that their family’s philosophy is about paying it forward. “It makes us feel good to know we are a part of the success of the next generation of Gould lawyers.”

The students’ collective talents and drive are paramount.

“It is not important to us to know the recipients of our gift. We trust the leadership at Gould to select the appropriate, highly motivated students who are in need of a scholarship,” says Steve. The Mindels enjoy interacting with students at Law Leadership Society events, mentoring opportunities and other occasions during the year. “We are continually impressed with the high quality of the students and the lawyers who graduate from USC Gould.”

Dean Guzman commends the Trojan Family commitment.

“I am personally grateful for the continued generosity and scholarship support from our alumni, donors and friends,” he says. “These acts of kindness transform law school applicants into law students, who go on to become the attorneys, advocates and leaders who shape our world.”

Palmer echoes the dean’s vision. “There are countless laws, regulations and statutes affecting just about every area of our lives. There is always something to be passionate about, and I am excited to see how my interests and expertise will evolve over time.”



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