Scholars for Justice

The first ever Scholars for Justice at Seattle University School of Law are committed to working for the good of the community, especially helping women, children and families.

Amy Pritchard and Persis Yu were selected from an outstanding crop of applications as the first law students to receive the prestigious, full-tuition Scholars for Justice Awards.

“Amy and Persis represent the future of social justice in the legal profession,” said Carol Cochran, assistant dean for admission. “Both have the integrity, compassion and commitment to bettering the community that make them well worthy of this distinction.”

The Scholars for Justice Award is a three-year, full-tuition scholarship supporting students committed to public interest law, service and leadership, academic excellence, community and global awareness.

Pritchard moved from Vermont and graduated from the University of Washington with a degree in comparative history of ideas. She has worked full-time in community health, doing outreach to and developing population-based programs for underserved communities. She achieved Spanish fluency on the job, enabling her to reach out to those she served in the Latino community.

She also volunteers as a Court Appointed Special Advocate, representing children in child dependency cases and making recommendations about their best interest. Because of personal experiences, she always wanted to help children and to go to law school.

“I was always interested in the law and how it could intervene to help people’s lives,” she said.

Pritchard served with Americorps for a year, working on policy initiatives for the City of Seattle’s Domestic and Sexual Violence Prevention Office, where she got to know Sudha Shetty, who is now director of the School of Law’s Access to Justice Institute.

She’s not sure where her law career will take her, but she wants to do social justice work, and she’s grateful for the financial help the scholarship provides.

“It will give me an opportunity to commit to public service after graduation, rather than worrying about paying for school,” she said.

Persis Yu was a social worker for the past few years while earning her master’s degree in social work from the University of Washington. She worked with Rep. Eric Pettigrew, helping to create legislation on children’s issues including child care, foster care and Children and Family Services. She has done direct service work for Child Care Resources, working with families to find child care, specifically homeless families and those who were trying to get off public assistance.

Yu is active in the Asian Pacific Islander and the LGBT communities, including helping to write “brown papers” Minority Executive Directors Coalition.

A graduate of Mount Holyoke College, she applied to law school a few years ago but decided to wait to go. Receiving the first Scholars for Justice Award was a sign to her that now was her time.

“I think there are so many things I could do,” she said. She’d like to get involved with the Northwest Women’s Law Center and possible do immigration work.

Both scholars are looking forward to the opportunities presented by the Seattle Journal for Social Justice, the Access to Justice Institute, the Ronald Peterson Law Clinic, the Public Interest Law Foundation and other programs devoted to social justice.

“SU was recommended to me for their social justice programs,” Yu said.

The Scholars for Justice Award is further evidence of Seattle University School of Law’s commitment to educating outstanding lawyers who distinguish themselves through their dedication to law in the service of justice.

“This award will help the School of Law address the need to have well-trained, ethical lawyers working for the less fortunate and on behalf of the community,” Dean Kellye Testy said. “Our mission is to give aspiring lawyers the professional skills and ethical compass they need to become leaders who will work for a just and humane world.”

The scholarship allows two of the most promising students who have proven their dedication to this important but traditionally lower-paying field of law to earn their degrees without incurring the debt that is often an obstacle in choosing such a career. Scholars will make a moral commitment to devote much of their careers to public interest law or to donate to the law school’s scholarship fund an amount at least equal to the scholarship should their career path change.

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