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Law Students Selected for Spring 09 Tulane 34 and Crest Awards

April 27, 2009

The Tulane 34 Award is presented to 34 graduates university-wide who have distinguished themselves throughout their collegiate life at Tulane University. Students are recognized for their exemplary leadership, service, and academic excellence. Named for the year in which the university was founded, 1834, Tulane 34 is among the most coveted university-wide honors bestowed upon students.

John Guenard, a graduating law student from Lake Providence, La, exemplifies the outstanding scholar, stellar student leader and community service volunteer that this prestigious award recognizes. Guenard is ranked first in his law graduating class of 260 students with a cumulative GPA of 3.856/4.0 and upon graduation is joining the US Army JAG Corps. Prior to attending law school, Guenard served four years as an infantry officer in the US Army. While a student at Tulane law, Guenard has volunteered his time and experience with our local ROTC battalion, attending out-of-town field exercises, sharing his experiences with cadets, offering advice and answering their questions about career options. Remarkably, while maintaining such a stellar academic record, Guenard is the Editor in Chief of Tulane Law Review Volume 83 (2008-09). In this extremely vital position of responsibility, he leads and supervises approximately 58 student members who produce a six-issue volume comprising over 1500 pages of published material. As Editor in Chief, Guenard oversees production of the volume, approves all content, communicates with authors, plans and hosts related conferences and symposia and serves as a role model and mentor for dozens of junior student members. Guenard’s leadership ability, dedication, hard work and seeming tirelessness are most significant when considered in light of his first place rank in the 2009 graduating class. Always mindful of giving back to the community, Guenard volunteers with the New Orleans Legal Assistance Clinic offering free legal counseling to clients in necessitous circumstances. Among his other duties as a volunteer assistant, Guenard prepares applications for his clients for assisted living programs. He is admired and respected by his classmates, faculty and members of the law school administration and is an inspiration to those who aspire to follow in his path. As Guenard states in his resume, “Assuming the role of Editor in Chief is a bit like taking on a full-time job, plus overtime, while carrying a full course load, but the opportunity to work with many of the most dedicated and talented students, and to represent the law school and Tulane University, was an honor for me, and is something I will always be thankful for.”

Very few students meet the criteria of this distinguished award. Galen M. Hair, a graduating law student from Arlington, Texas, has achieved tremendous academic success with a 3.539 GPA, is a trained opera singer, scholar, student leader and tireless community service volunteer. Hair’s multi-faceted skills are remarkable as reflected in his resume which merely highlights his involvement and achievements. Co-founder of the Public Interest Executive Committee in the law school, Hair created this umbrella group to coordinate and bring together for their common cause every public interest law student organization. Among the committee’s many endeavors, Hair led the coordination of hurricane recovery efforts in Pointe au Chien and brought to Tulane prestigious speakers in the area of public interest. His talent and leadership skills are reflected in his service on the Student Hurricane Network National Advisory Board where he personally developed and administered projects for over 1,000 law students, prevented passage of a public camping ordinance designed to outlaw homelessness, and designed and implemented the “Week of Service” where incoming law students volunteer in the community. Further, Hair serves as Student Coordinator for Matchmakers For Justice, a program where students are matched with members of the community in need. He created and managed student committees to oversee all aspects of the program, interviewed and hired attorneys to represent residents in need, and successfully matched over 100 law students and lawyers with needy community residents. Hair holds a Board of Advisors position with the Disaster Accountability Project wherein he works with municipal governments on their disaster plans and implements public service announcements to inform citizens of their rights, volunteers with the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, serves as Vice-Chair of the American Bar Association, Young Lawyers Division,  serves on the Law School Deans Advisory Committee, Human Rights Law Society, and works in the Law School’s Domestic Violence Clinic. Notwithstanding these meritorious accomplishments, Hair is a senior member of the Tulane Law Review, Legal Research and Writing Senior Fellow, Tutor for first year law students, and Moot Court competitor. He also volunteered with the Tulane University Legal Assistance Program. Galen Hair has excelled scholastically and truly deserves recognition for his distinguished record of involvement in service within and outside of the Tulane community. He is the consummate student leader who continuously works to further opportunities for students and to mentor them in exploring and implementing new initiatives.

Demelza Baer, a graduating law student from Bethesda, Md., has a distinguished record of scholarship, leadership and service. Earning a 3.477 GPA, Demelza is a recipient of the Dean’s Scholarship and numerous other honors and awards for her academic excellence and advocacy skills. As Chief Justice of the Tulane Moot Court Board, an organization that provides opportunities for students to hone their research, writing and oral advocacy skills, Baer leads more than 200 student members in various trial, appellate, arbitration and negotiation competitions nationwide and provides learning opportunities for them on a national level. In addition to her legal studies, Baer manages an operating budget of approximately $75,000 and spends the hours required of a full-time job each week mentoring and coaching future student leaders, helping them to develop and improve their leadership skills. Under her leadership, Moot Court’s student membership increased significantly from the previous year notwithstanding the interruption of a hurricane evacuation. Further, she fostered stronger relationships with the community by creating an External Relations Chair and forming partnerships with the Benjamin Franklin public school and the Center for Public Service at Tulane. Overseeing and managing Moot Court is often compared to running a small city in that it requires intense organization, time management, hard work and dedication. Baer has never asked her members to work harder than she does, and she is continuously there for them offering support and guidance. In addition to leading one of the largest organizations on campus, Baer has made time to serve as a senior member of the preeminent Tulane Journal of Technology & Intellectual Property, and she serves as a Senior Fellow in Legal Research & Analysis for International Students, teaching, mentoring and tutoring the international students. Further, she gives her time and energy to the Dean’s Advisory Committee, working with the law school deans to facilitate communication and address concerns of the student body. As an officer in the Public Interest Law Foundation, Baer raised summer grant funds for students who work in unpaid internships in the public interest area by manning the breakfast table and assisting with the annual Auction. As Speaker Chair, she recruited guest speakers such as the local counsel for the American Civil Liberties Union. Baer’s desire to serve the community, to support and encourage her classmates to develop their leadership potential, and to creatively manage and lead over 200 students in a nationally recognized and honored student organization is an inspiration to her classmates and a source of pride for the law school.

Carolyn Depoian, a graduating law student from Chelmsford, Mass., is an outstanding recipient of the Tulane 34 Award. Her academic success is reflected in her commendable 3.394 GPA, and her service to Tulane and the local and national community combined with her leadership ability make Depoian a stellar student scholar and leader worthy of recognition. Serving this academic year as President of the Public Interest Law Foundation, one of the law school’s largest and most active student organizations with approximately 75 student members, Depoian works tirelessly  and passionately in this demanding role to lead her members in fundraising initiatives that provide summer stipends for students who take unpaid internships in the public sector. These summer grants are critical to the New Orleans community and across the nation as they allow law students to work, without pay, as public interest law advocates on issues such as civil rights, criminal, employment, environmental and immigration law. Depoian oversees and manages numerous fundraising activities, including catering numerous events and the Annual PILF Auction which typically profits about $12,000. These funds are used entirely to fund student public interest grants. Further, Depoian leads in the planning and implementation  of Public Interest Week at the Law School which is held in the spring and which brings in numerous speakers who discuss issues important to students who are interested in pursuing public interest careers. Depoian’s dedication, energy and hard work on public interest initiatives for the community, often amounting to 30 hours per week, exemplify her distinguished record of service and involvement. In addition to her work with PILF, she serves as Senior Associate Editor of Tulane Law’s Journal of Law and Sexuality, works in the Civil Litigation Clinic where she represents victims of housing discrimination in New Orleans, and serves as a GAPSA representative representing the law school and the SBA. Depoian’s success at integrating academic scholarship, campus leadership and community service are admirable and are worthy of this distinguished University award.

Justin Van Alstyne, a graduating law student from Greenwood, Ind., has attained an impressive 3.534 GPA while tirelessly and energetically giving his time and effort to serving Tulane and the New Orleans community. Passionately devoted to assisting the children of our community and improving the plight of public education, Van Alstyne serves as a Cowen Institute Jones Scholar in an initiative at the Samuel  J. Green Charter School. Van Alstyne terms our public school system a “persistent socioeconomic quagmire” and in an effort to ameliorate the problems with the educational system has teamed with Firstline Schools to open a library at the Green Charter School. Not only did he devote countless hours to manual labor in this endeavor, he initiated a spatial reorganization analysis and designed and implemented basic library skills education programs for the students. Van Alstyne’s dream was realized recently as the Green Charter School Library opened to Kindergartners and First graders who discovered new bright paint and a wide selection of books. Going forward after graduation from law school, Van Alstyne will be one of the two to three librarians who staff the Green Library full time, and he feels tremendous excitement about engaging the students and inculcating a love of reading in them. Van Alstyne’s academic excellence has afforded him the Dean’s Scholarship, and in the spirit of service to the school, he is an active student leader as Moot Court Board Senior Justice and in the Maritime Law Society, the Federalist Society, and the Civil Law Society. Prior to his selection as a Cowen Institute Jones Scholar, Van Alstyne taught and tutored students who were labeled “unruly” at the New Orleans Center for Science and Math High School. For an hour every other day throughout his first year of law school, Van Alstyne taught a group of 20 students about classical philosophy and argumentation, having them read Socrates and James Carville and writing essays on controversial topics in society. During this experience, Van Alstyne says he “remembered that life is about people, not pieces of paper and that humility and kindness are human virtues that must be lived and sacrificed for, not simply spoken about in platitudes.” Justin Van Alstyne is a respected scholar, outstanding community service volunteer and student leader, and we are delighted to recognize his distinguished record of achievement.

The Student Crest Awards, started in 1998, are a unified campus recognition of the efforts and achievements of students as demonstrated in the areas of leadership, scholarship and community service. 

John Guenard, James F. Kilroy Provost’s Award

Cathy M. LeBlanc, Dean Donald R. Moore Award
Cathy LeBlanc, a graduating law student from North Woodmere, N.Y., exhibits a strength of character and purpose and an ability to lead by enormously energetic example that are rarely seen in a student leader. As Co-Chair of Konbit Pou Edikasyon (KPE): “Working Together for Education”, LeBlanc developed an organization aimed at funding and securing the education of Haitian children and among other responsibilities, chairs all board members and builds relationships with Haitian diaspora organizations. As Community Service Chair of Tulane’s Black Law Student Association, LeBlanc has enthusiastically guided student members in community service and global initiatives that resulted in achieving the highest fundraising BLSA chapter of National Black Law Students Soccer for Peace Haiti Initiative. Selected for the Tulane Law School Diversity Executive Committee, in part because of her positive attitude and concern for others, LeBlanc exhibits a dedication and commitment that inspire her fellow members and classmates to increase the goals of diversity both within and beyond the law school. LeBlanc’s tireless effort and ability to organize and lead large groups of students have resulted in school-wide multicultural benefit luncheons, among other events, and her mentoring role in Boys Hope Girls Hope New Orleans, in which she provides emotional and academic support to a group of female high school scholars, further exemplifies LeBlanc’s exceptional character and concern for others. Because of her significant time management skills and cooperative spirit, LeBlanc has been able to successfully balance the rigorous academic demands of law school with her many accomplishments, both within the law school and globally, that are reflected in her resume. As she states, “Throughout my life…I have learned that the promotion of diversity is not loud or imposing. Rather, it is patient and inviting.” Cathy LeBlanc’s dedication to bringing people together in a positive way to enthusiastically improve our community and world, her humility and significant leadership skills combine to make her a most deserving recipient of this prestigious award.

Lauren C. Zimmerman, Service and Leadership Award  
Not only has Lauren Zimmerman exhibited exemplary dedication as a volunteer in contributing in excess of 200 hours to pro bono activity benefitting the community at large, but she also has been an effective and inspiring leader for a number of school organizations. For two years she served as co-coordinator of the Tulane Law School Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program (VITA), where her recruitment of fellow students after IRS training resulted in the contribution of 1,605 hours by student participants to assist low-income taxpayers, the elderly and those with disabilities. She helped VITA expand its reach by dramatically organizing outreach in the hurricane-ravaged neighborhoods of New Orleans and by providing Spanish translation services to non-English speakers. As a consequence of Tulane VITA’s outstanding contributions, the organization gained national recognition from the IRS. Her leadership skills and dedication are also reflected in her contributions to key law school programs and organizations. During the current academic year, Zimmerman has exhibited tireless dedication in her role as Executive Treasurer of the Tulane Student Bar Association (SBA), which is the student government body of the law school. Managing the $150,000 budget and serving on the executive board, she oversaw the funding and planning of a multitude of student organization programs involving not only the student body but also administration and faculty. Serving on the Moot Court Board from 2007-08 as Associate Justice of Business Affairs, she handled a budget of approximately $70,000 which enables this entity to promote and teach trial and appellate advocacy, as well as mediation and arbitration skills; she also served as a participant and a coach for other student participants in Moot Court. Further she assumed a leadership role in Phi Alpha Delta (a professional organization open to legal professionals and law students), in Alianza del Derecho (an organization providing community service to Latinos in our local community) and in the Business Law Society at the Law School. The summary serves as further evidence that this student is most deserving of the recognition that the Crest Award confers. Zimmerman is an inspiration to all.


Tulane Lawyer Magazine  

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