Public Interest Grads Win Bar Study Stipends

UC Hastings Law has a legacy of training students for public-interest careers. To support that effort, the college awards deserving graduates with the Nancy Stuart Public Interest Award to help fund their bar preparation studies.

The $4,000 award, for students committed to careers devoted to closing the access-to-justice gap for marginalized communities, honors Nancy Stuart ’94, the school’s first Associate Dean for Experiential Learning and former Clinical Law Professor. Stuart devoted her career to public service. She joined the faculty as an adjunct in 2000 and came to embody the spirit of its public interest mission.

The 2020 awardees are:

Gerardo Agustin, Colton Donica, Jessica Herrera, Caroline Hill, Romulo Lopez, Jonathan Mendoza, Christian Park, Navleena Sami, Rebecca Kim, and Alex Sauerwein.

Jessica Herrera
Jessica Herrera

Recipient Jessica Herrera ’20 has a longtime interest in education issues and is pursuing a career as a legislative attorney.

She was on the UC Hastings La Raza executive board as political chair and on the board of the Hastings Women’s Law Journal. She also participated in the UCDC Law Program and interned at the U.S. Department of Education in the Civil Rights Office, where she focused on affirmative action and issues pertaining to students with limited English proficiency, Title IX, and the ADA.

During her final semester at UC Hastings, she interned at the California Legislative Counsel Office, where she drafted legislation and provided legal counsel to the California legislature.

“I feel very humbled to be a recipient of the Nancy Stuart Public Interest Award. There is one thing that has been made clear during my bar studies so far: studying for the bar full-time is a luxury many minority graduates do not have. The inability to financially support ourselves through a prolonged period of time further perpetuates systemic inequities for low-income students, such as myself, as we face the last barrier into the legal profession.

“Receiving this scholarship has allowed me to mitigate the growing disparities among graduates committed to public interest work who have not received any financial assistance for our bar studies from our future employers. I am very thankful to the Hastings clinical programs for giving me the opportunity to partake in the UCDC Law Program, where I interned at the U.S. Department of Education in the Office of Civil Rights and to participate in the Legislation Clinic in Sacramento, where I interned at the California Office of Legislative Counsel. These experiences have solidified my commitment to public service.

“As an advocate for educational accessibility and equity, I am extremely grateful for the Legal Opportunity Education Program (LEOP) and for the honor to be a Nancy Stuart Public Interest Award recipient. This award has leveled the playing field for me and allowed me to devote myself entirely to my bar studies. It is a privilege many first-generation students do not have.”

Caroline Hill
Caroline Hill

Recipient Caroline Hill ’20 just took the Colorado bar exam, and is waiting to hear when she can start as a public defender in Colorado. “The Nancy Stuart award supported me financially as I prepared for the bar exam during these crazy COVID times, moving three times during my 10-week bar prep period. Having an extra financial cushion helped ease my mind during bar prep and allowed me to focus on my studies, as best I could. The award helped me fly to Denver, and provided me with lodging and transportation to and from the exam each day.”

Donate to the Nancy Stuart Public Interest Fund here.