From a chance conversation in March, Tulane Law School Class of 2016 members Robert Waldrup and Gary Crosby launched a project that promises to leave a lasting impact even as they move on to their legal careers.
They’ve pledged to start a scholarship endowment aimed at increasing Tulane’s racial diversity and providing mentors for the recipients.
“Tulane already is a great institution as it is, but it can go further” through enriching diversity and opening pathways for more first-generation law students to launch professional careers, said Waldrup, a U.S. Air Force captain who’ll join the Judge Advocate General Corps in San Antonio in the fall. The endowment, he said, is “trying to play my small part in that.”
A key feature of the initiative is to combine scholarship support to remove financial barriers with robust mentoring networks that will help students to break into elite opportunities in the legal profession.
lass of 2016 members Gary Crosby and Robert Waldrup aim to enrich diversity at Tulane Law School and open pathways for more first-generation law students to launch professional careers. Photo and video by Ryan Rivet
Waldrup said that during six years as a military meteorologist, which included postings to Tucson, Bossier City, Kyrgyzstan and Korea, he valued receiving guidance from other African-American officers. But, when he worked as a Tulane Law Review managing editor, he saw very few alumni photos of African-American men.
He said he hoped to create more opportunities for students from underrepresented groups and “extol the virtues” of working on the law review.
The endowment took off quickly after Waldrup and Crosby brought up the idea while talking with Dean David Meyer at an event. After the students explained their goal to the Dean’s Advisory Board, member Alan Stone (E ’83, L ’87) and his wife, Katy Stone (E ’83), pledged a substantial matching donation.
“Katy and I were inspired by the willingness of Gary and Robert to give back at such an early stage in their careers and by their commitment to mentor recipients,” Alan Stone said. “Supporting and expanding diversity is a top priority at the law school, and we are delighted to be a small part of that effort. Our hope is that other alumni and supporters are similarly inspired so we can raise the funds necessary to support a full scholarship.”
Alan Stone is a partner at New York firm Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCloy, where Crosby will start in the fall. Katy Stone recently was a visiting professor in Tulane’s School of Science and Engineering.
“While the scholarship award is an important feature, the mentoring and networking aspects will set these deserving students on a path of success,” said Crosby, a native of Jasper, Alabama, who’s the first in his family to earn a four-year college degree, master’s degree (from the London School of Economics) and law degree. “The program will be designed to help them navigate through this unfamiliar territory and, we hope, lead to career opportunities.”
After graduating from Birmingham-Southern College, Crosby taught history in New Orleans for two years through Teach for America and saw the educational inequalities. “A law degree would give me the tools to someday address these inequalities facing students from under-represented groups and disadvantaged backgrounds,” he said.
At Tulane Law, he was inducted into the Order of the Barristers, served on the moot court board and worked at the U.S. Attorney’s Office as a law clerk during his third year. In April, he organized a “law day” event in New Orleans public schools for African-American and Latino students to visit classrooms and encourage elementary school children to think about careers as lawyers. Crosby said he hopes to handle litigation early on and eventually make public service the hallmark of his career through pro bono work.
Waldrup, who comes from a military family, was born in Bossier City but grew up in North Carolina and graduated from NC State University. During law school, he got experience representing clients through the Tulane Criminal Law Clinic and his work at the Louisiana Capital Assistance Center and a New Orleans law firm. He’ll start his legal career prosecuting cases as an Assistant Staff Judge Advocate at Lackland Air Force Base but said he feels prepared to work on the other side of the docket from his law school training.
“I feel very confident that I’ve gotten an excellent legal education to springboard off of,” he said.