A number of Harvard Law students from the Class of ’16 received special awards this year during the 2016 Class Day ceremony on May 25. The students were recognized for their outstanding leadership, citizenship, compassion and dedication to their studies and the profession.
Andrew L. Kaufman Pro Bono Service Award
This year’s Andrew L. Kaufman Pro Bono Service Award was presented to Joseph Michalakes ’16 for exemplifying a pro bono public spirit and demonstrating an extraordinary commitment to improving and delivering high quality volunteer legal services in low-income communities.
Michalakes has contributed over 2,000 pro bono hours by working with two Student Practice Organizations (Harvard Immigration Project and Project No One Leaves), in addition to being a clinic student attorney with the Harvard Legal Aid Bureau (HLAB).
At HLAB, Michalakes represented numerous clients in various areas of practice including wage and hour and housing cases. He has engaged in every aspect of litigation: he has drafted court documents, conducted negotiations, written settlement agreements, argued motions, and represented clients at trial.
The Andrew L. Kaufman Pro Bono Service Award is granted each year in honor of Professor Andrew Kaufman ’54, who has been instrumental in creating and supporting the Pro Bono Service Program at HLS. The J.D. student in the graduating class who performs the highest number of pro bono service hours receives the award and a $500 honorarium.
HLS requires all students to perform 50 hours of pro bono services but most go far beyond. This year, 10 students exceeded 2000 hours of service and 100 students volunteered more than 1000 hours.
The William J. Stuntz Memorial Award for Justice, Human Dignity and Compassion
The Stuntz award was presented to Katie King. The award recognizes a graduating student who has demonstrated an exemplary commitment to the principles of justice, human dignity and compassion while at Harvard Law School.
For the past two years, King has been a leader and innovator on a complex project with the International Human Rights Clinic related to the right to education in South Africa. While the right to a quality education is a fundamental right in South Africa’s constitution, access remains problematic. Her research on the challenges confronted by students trying to get to school, in some areas a dangerous 25km daily walk, led directly to the creation of a national advocacy campaign on scholar transportation in South Africa. Soon after the government began providing bus transportation to the rural areas where King did her research, and then, after more than six years of delays, parliament passed a national school transportation policy.
King is completely dedicated to advancing the right to education and has consistently engaged at the most sophisticated levels with the South African attorneys who have dedicated their careers to these issues. “Working with Katie has been truly gratifying and inspiring,” said her clinical professor. “She elevates the work of everyone around her through her commitment, insight and collaboration.”
The award, established in 2011, is given in honor of the late William Stuntz, a renowned scholar of criminal justice at Harvard Law School, an evangelical Christian and a teacher much beloved by students and colleagues.
The David Westfall Memorial Award for Community Leadership
The Westfall Award was presented to Yaseen Eldik. Named in honor of the late Professor David Westfall ’50, who taught at HLS for more than 50 years and served as an inaugural faculty leader for a first-year section, the award is presented annually to recognize student contributions to creating community within a first-year section and the wider class.
“Yaseen Eldik loves Harvard Law School,” was a common refrain among his classmates. Eldik dedicated his time to a number of student organizations and community projects. He is a Class Marshal, was a member of the LAMBDA executive board and the Muslim Law Students Association, an online editor of the Harvard Negotiation Law Review, was part of the Harvard Negotiation and Mediation Clinic, and served as a research assistant to several professors.
Eldik was on his 1L section’s events committee and worked tirelessly to plan events to bring students together, a tradition he continued in his 2L and 3L years by forging bridges between different groups of students and between faculty, staff and students.
The Frank Righeimer, Jr. Prize for Student Citizenship
The Righeimer Prize was presented to Isabel Juliana Broer. Established in memory of Frank S. Righeimer Jr. ’32, the prize is awarded annually to a graduating student in recognition of exceptional citizenship within the HLS community demonstrated through involvement in student organizations, community service groups or through individual efforts.
Broer held countless leadership positions at HLS, from running the Public Interest Auction as a 1L to president of the Board of Student Advisers (BSA) as a 3L. As BSA president, she worked to ensure all BSA board members received training on diversity and inclusion and advocated for the BSA to play a more active role in helping first year students adjust to life at HLS.
She was also active with the Law and Social Change Program of Study (POS). As a POS fellow, Broer planned events and formed discussion groups to build community among students interested in social justice. She also played a valuable informal role in the HLS community, advising students about law school and internships, and on how to turn their pre-law school dreams of working in public interest into a reality.
The Dean’s Award for Community Leadership
The Dean’s Award recognizes a number of graduating students who have contributed time and energy to making the HLS community a better place through involvement in student organizations, community service groups, and individual efforts. The Class of 2016 recognized the following students:
- Mavara Agha
- Nadia Christina Arid
- Avani Bansal
- Sean Cuddihy
- Elizabeth Curran
- Ariel Eckblad
- Jonathan R. Gartner
- Jacob B. Hanna
- Amanda Brooke Levine
- Faye Ekua Maison
- Megan R. Marks
- Jenae S. Moxie
- Carlos Andrés Pagán
- Petra Plasilova
- Catherine Taylor Poor
- Michael Elias Shammas
- Leland S. Shelton
- Ariel A. Simms
- Kyle John Strickland
- Tyler Vigen