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Bar foundation awards diversity scholarships

More than a dozen outstanding new law school students, from a former fellow in the governor's office, to an AmeriCorps' JusticeCorps intern and a military police officer, are getting a helping hand paying for their legal education thanks to the California Bar Foundation.

Last month, the foundation presented its annual Diversity Scholarships, totaling $142,550, to 19 law students. Chosen from a pool of more than 220 applicants, the scholarship recipients will each receive $7,500. They were selected based on academic excellence, financial need and commitment to the community.

“Though there were many strong applicants, those selected rose to the top because of their academic excellence, resilience in the face of adversity, and dedication to giving back to their communities,” said Joan Kupersmith Larkin, chair of the Foundation Scholarship Committee and partner at Seyfarth Shaw LLP.

Given for the fifth year, the scholarships acknowledge incoming law school students who hail from communities that are underrepresented in the legal profession. Sandra Fujiyama, a partner with Sidley Austin, one of the law firm sponsors of the program, said the goal of the scholarships is to promote greater diversity and inclusivity for the legal profession as a whole.

“These students have impressed us not only with their academic achievements and compelling life experiences, but also their deep commitment to community leadership,” she said.

This year's recipients were honored at an Oct. 4 ceremony at the Southern California Gas Co. in Los Angeles featuring Dolores Huerta, president of the Dolores Huerta Foundation and co-founder of the United Farm Workers. The foundation also gave 21 Public Interest Scholarships at the reception. Announced in April, those scholarships recognize students who aspire to be public interest lawyers.

The diversity scholarships are funded by law firms and corporations who combined have made multimillion-dollar commitments to the program including: Arnold & Porter LLP; Calvo Fisher & Jacob LLP; Cox, Castle & Nicholson LLP; Fenwick & West LLP; Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP; Keesal, Young & Logan; Kilpatrick Townsend; Lim Ruger Foundation; Manatt, Phelps & Phillips LLP; the Morrison & Foerster Foundation; Morrison & Foerster LLP; Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe Foundation; Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP; the Sidley Austin Foundation; SNR Denton; Southern California Edison; Southern California Gas Company and San Diego Gas & Electric; and the Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati Foundation.

The recipients of the 2012 Diversity Scholarships are:

  • Samantha Shine McPherson, California Western School of Law
  • MavEryck Langford Stevenson, Loyola Law School
  • Ruijuan (Whitney) Hao, Pepperdine University School of Law
  • Denise Ballesteros, Stanford Law School
  • Nicole Marquez, Stanford Law School
  • Hugo Cabrera, UC Berkeley School of Law
  • Salmon Hossein, UC Berkeley School of Law
  • Nicole Johnson, UC Berkeley School of Law
  • Emily Ly, UC Berkeley School of Law
  • Cesar Valde, UC Berkeley School of Law
  • Elisa Gonzalez, UC Davis School of Law
  • Perla Edith Parra, UC Hastings College of the Law
  • Denise Renee Smith, UC Hastings College of the Law
  • Tiffane King, UC Irvine School of Law
  • Crystal Adams, UC Irvine School of Law
  • Julio C. Navarro, UCLA School of Law
  • Jasmine Phillips, UCLA School of Law
  • Claude Denver Durden Jr., University of San Diego School of Law
  • Perisha Milan Wallace, University of San Francisco School of Law