Five Students Named Public Service Scholars with the William Wayne Justice Center for Public Interest Law

Five students have been selected to serve as Public Service Scholars for 2010–2011 with the William Wayne Justice Center for Public Interest Law at the University of Texas School of Law.

The Law School awards scholarships each year to a group of outstanding students with a demonstrated commitment to studying, promoting, and working in public service. Each Scholar receives a $5,000 scholarship and works closely with the Justice Center on public service initiatives.

“These student leaders demonstrate both academic achievement and a remarkable dedication to public service,” said Eden Harrington, director of the Justice Center. “The Scholars have great ideas and boundless energy and we look forward to working with them.”

The 2010–2011 Public Service Scholars, left to right: Michael Cowles, Susannah Volpe, Meredith Shytles, Alec Swafford, and Brandi Mirzakhani

The following students were selected as the 2010–2011 Public Service Scholars:

Michael Cowles, ’12, who graduated with highest honors from the University of Texas at Austin, is a cofounder of the UT chapter of the National Lawyers Guild and president of the UT Law American Constitution Society. Last summer he worked for the ACLU of Texas. Before attending law school he worked as a community organizer in Maine and New Mexico and as a child advocacy specialist for Court Appointed Special Advocates of Travis County.

Brandi Mirzakhani, ’12, a cum laude graduate of American University, is active in the Texas Environmental Law Journal, the Thurgood Marshall Legal Society, and Pro Bono in January. As an undergraduate, she re-founded her school’s NAACP chapter and became the first director of the Department of Diversity Advocacy within the student government. Last summer she worked for the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in Washington, D.C. She plans to pursue a career in government.

Meredith Shytles, ’11, who graduated with honors from the University of Texas at Austin, is active in Law Students for Reproductive Justice and the Public Interest Law Association, has volunteered for SafePlace and Jane’s Due Process, and has participated in the Immigration Clinic. During her law school summers, she worked for the Texas Advocacy Project and Advocacy, Inc. Upon graduation, she plans to pursue a career combining women’s rights and disability law.

Alec Swafford, ’12, a graduate of Rice University, is a member of the American Journal of Criminal Law, is active in the Criminal Law Association, the Public Interest Law Association, and the American Constitution Society, and has volunteered with the ACLU of Texas. Last summer he clerked for the Orleans Public Defenders in New Orleans. He is currently participating in the Capital Punishment Clinic, and hopes to begin his legal career as a public defender.

Susannah Volpe, ’11, a graduate of Swarthmore College, is president of the Public Interest Law Association, works as a research assistant for the UT Law Pro Bono Program, has participated in the Community Development Clinic and the Juvenile Justice Clinic, and has volunteered with American Gateways. During her law school summers, she worked for CASA de Maryland and for the Legal Aid Society of New York.

About the Justice Center:

The William Wayne Justice Center for Public Interest Law is dedicated to promoting equal justice for all through legal education. The Justice Center works toward this goal by educating students, faculty and attorneys about public interest legal issues; teaching students about the need to increase access to justice; creating pro bono opportunities for the law school community; providing support to students and graduates engaged in public service; and conducting research into legal issues affecting underserved individuals and communities.

Contact: Eden Harrington, Director of the William Wayne Justice Center for Public Interest Law, UT Law, 512-232-7068,

Category: Student Life
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