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Six law students receive Tulane 34, Crest awards

May 16, 2014

Six Tulane Law Class of 2014 students are being recognized with Tulane University’s most prestigious all-campus student honors.

Elliot Singer, James (Jimmy) Miller and Vanessa Rodriguez have been selected for the coveted Tulane 34 Award, which is presented to 34 graduating students university-wide who have distinguished themselves through all-around excellence in leadership, service and academic achievement. The award is named for Tulane University’s founding year, 1834, and is considered among the highest honors the University can bestow.

Sophie Woodruff, Mark Montiel and Bethany Van Kampen each will receive a Student Crest Award, a campus-wide recognition of students’ efforts and achievements within and outside of the classroom. These awards, sponsored annually by the Division of Student Affairs, honor excellence in leadership, scholarship and community service, as well as initiative and promise in campus leadership.

James Hix (Jimmy) Miller: Tulane 34 Award 

James (Jimmy) Miller, from Kansas City, Missouri, taught high school before entering law school, and during 2013-14 he served as editor-in-chief of the Tulane Law Review, supervising approximately 60 staffers. His Volume 88 included a feature in which he coordinated contributions from the Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court and the U.S. Solicitor General. Jimmy’s volunteer work with the Public Interest Law Foundation included helping to raise money for grants for students working in public interest positions over the summer. Jimmy also researched and drafted claims for relief for Death Row inmates through the Capital Post-Conviction Project of Louisiana, and he represented indigent clients as an intern with the Orleans Public Defenders Office.

Mark Montiel: Gary Lawton Fretwell Crest Award 

Mark Montiel, from Montgomery, Alabama, is the recipient of the Gary Lawton Fretwell Award, which recognizes a graduate student’s leadership contributions to the success of student organizations and the development of other students. Mark progressed as a leader of the Student Bar Association, starting as treasurer, then moving to executive vice president and executive president. The SBA is the umbrella organization over some 40 law student groups, with an annual budget of $160,000. Mark worked to enhance the SBA’s reputation, strengthen the group’s relationship with administrators, make funding distributions fairer and improve the reimbursement process. He helped organize a law school Diversity Week to promote inclusiveness, provided a student voice on the Dean’s Advisory Committee and assisted the Admission Office in recruiting new students.

Vanessa Pierce Rodriguez: Tulane 34 Award 

Vanessa Pierce Rodriguez, from New Orleans, has a background in psychology and was vice president of the Alternative Dispute Resolution Society and the Disability and Health Law Society. She trained students in using psychotherapeutic techniques in mediations and initiated law student mental health awareness programming. In the community, she worked with Health Law Advocates of Louisiana to help low-income residents reduce medical debt through and coordinated the efforts of law students who came to New Orleans to offer legal services to HIV-positive residents. As an Equal Employment Opportunity Commission intern, Vanessa lectured at the Mexican Consulate on anti-discrimination policies and trained EEOC staff on mediation techniques to aid individuals exhibiting mental health disorders. She received the James A. Wysocki Trial Advocacy Award and the David L. Herman Award for Excellence in the Legal Profession.

Elliot Singer: Tulane 34 Award 

Elliot Singer, from Pepper Pike, Ohio, served as chief justice of the Tulane Moot Court Board. That involved supervising 112 students on various moot court teams and boards; teaching first- and second-year students oral and written advocacy skills; recruiting faculty and practitioner coaches for the teams; and organizing two national invitational competitions. As a senior legal research and writing fellow, Elliot also coached first-year students. He was managing editor of the Tulane Journal of Technology & Intellectual Property and is past president of the Jewish Law Student Association. During work with the Orleans Public Defenders Office, he used his Spanish-language skills to conduct courthouse and prison client interviews. He received the Stanley W. Ray Jr. Philanthropic Civic Scholarship, the Dean’s Scholarship and the Teach for America Alumni Scholarship.

Bethany Van Kampen: Service and Leadership Crest Award 

Bethany Van Kampen, from Red Bank, N.J., is the recipient of the Service & Leadership Award, which recognizes a graduate student who has made significant contributions to the New Orleans community through outstanding service and leadership. Bethany, who received a joint M.S.W. degree, donated more than 350 pro bono hours and worked on promoting women’s rights and combating domestic violence. She also provided legal assistance to HIV-impacted clients, with a special focus on employment discrimination and public accommodation issues. As a first-year law student, Bethany took the lead in forming the Tulane chapter of Law Students for Reproductive Justice, whose activities included educational programs, work with attorneys and judges and hosting the 2013 LSRJ South Regional Conference for more than 80 advocates for reproductive rights.

Sophie Woodruff: Dean Donald R. Moore Crest Award 

Sophie Woodruff of New Orleans is recipient of the Dean Donald R. Moore Award, which recognizes a graduate student who has demonstrated an effective approach to leadership in a significant position and has exhibited exceptional character. As president of the Public Interest Law Foundation, Sophie strengthened the organization and guided members in learning fundraising, community outreach and advocacy skills. PILF raises money for grants for students working in public-interest positions over the summer. Her initiatives included starting a direct-donation account for PILF; working to create an endowed account that alumni, students and professors can support; revamping the group’s website; and partnering with the Alumni Office to increase PILF alumni contributions. Sophie also has received the law school’s Pro Bono Service Award for service to the New Orleans community.

The law school’s annual awards ceremony for graduating students is set for May 16 at 5:30 p.m. in the Wendell Gauthier Appellate Moot Court Room in Weinmann Hall.

This item was updated May 20 to correct a graduate's hometown


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