December 14, 2015
Class of 2016 members, joined by Dean David Meyer for a holiday photo, already have hit 44 percent participation in a class gift dedicated to scholarships.
Photo by Sally Asher
As the end of the fall semester approached — and with it, their next-to-last round of final exams — members of Tulane Law School’s Class of 2016 were partying.
But it was for the best of causes.
The November class party kicked off a drive to raise a record-setting class gift by graduation in May. Inspired by their immediate predecessors, Class of 2016 members are channeling their competitiveness into setting a new standard for gift participation by an exiting class. And all the money raised will go to scholarships for future students.
The Class of 2015 reached 64 percent participation in just three months of fundraising. This year’s graduating class topped 44 percent in the first week of collecting, giving organizers confidence that they could get three-quarters of their classmates to donate by spring.
“Law school is really difficult, but Tulane has been a far more supportive environment than I expected coming in,” said Emily Prince, senior communications editor for the Tulane Maritime Law Journal. “This is a tangible way we can support the university. This is a tangible investment in our own degrees.”
Student Bar Association President Alexis Ruiz (center, in green) says that, at Tulane, she’s benefitted from people who “wanted to help me make my dreams come true.”
Lower photos by Ali Mansfield
About 20 students from across the law school spectrum are leading the fundraising campaign, but they called it “a team effort.” Many were urged to get involved by Graham Williams (L ’15), who helped spearhead the Class of 2015 fundraising and sought to imbed the annual drive into the law school’s culture for future graduating classes.
The Class of 2016 also has reached out to 50-year alumni, challenging the Class of 1966 to a participation contest.
Hayley Fritchie, a 3L who also earned a Tulane undergraduate degree, said that for the soon-to-be graduates, the campaign is “less about the money and more about showing support: You support Tulane Law School and want to see it get even better.”
She credited law school personnel with helping her forge a career path she hadn’t imagined before: she has a clerkship with a federal judge then a job with a major New York City firm lined up for after graduation.
“I could not have done any of this on my own,” said Fritchie, a Tulane Law Review managing editor.
Alex Johnson (in blue) adds elfish cheer to the Class of 2016 holiday photo.
Andrew Brien, who grew up in Napoleonville, a southeast Louisiana village of about 660 people, said Tulane Law had introduced him to students and faculty from across the United States and around the world. He was able to study maritime law in New Orleans and also spend a summer in Greece.
Tulane “opened up opportunities that I wouldn’t have achieved [otherwise],” said Brien, who plans to work at a New Orleans firm after graduating. By providing more money for scholarships, he said, “We’d like to give someone an opportunity who without this might not have it.”
Another motivation is to keep new graduates connected to the law school, rather than waiting until reunions to bring them back into the fold.
“Just involving everyone since the beginning is good for the whole community of the school,” said Valerie Barrios Arce, a 3L who also has helped with outreach to LLM students. She understands the power of an alumni network perhaps better than most students: she comes from Panama, where Tulane has an exceptionally strong and supportive base of graduates.
Student Bar Association President Alexis Ruiz said the Class of 2015 sent a compelling message about the impact of giving participation.
“It’s exciting to be part of something new. We can build on their foundation,” she said.
Ruiz came to Tulane because it offers civil law and “really embraces a global society,” she said. The Chicago-born daughter of Mexican immigrants, she has interned at the White House and worked on immigration legislation for the United Autoworkers and plans to practice immigration law. And she wants to make Tulane Law accessible to more students.
“I’ve really benefitted from people who’ve taken an interest in me and wanted to help me make my dreams come true,” she said.