Annual Awards Ceremony citations

Shattuck Awards:

AkbomAmechi Akpom
If the first Shattuck Award recipient's track record is any indication, he is sure to be a success in the legal profession. Before even coming to law school, this student had accomplished more than many do in a lifetime. Led by a dream of becoming a professional musician, this person created a record label, recorded a full-length album, designed promotional materials, performed throughout the Midwest and opened a recording studio - all while he completed a bachelor's degree in marketing at the Penn State. At USC, this student's planning, persistence and determination have been an asset to the entire student body. As class president during his second year of law school, he helped obtain a television for the student lounge, set up a Web site for student feedback, and visited everyone in Terrace Law housing to solicit comments and ideas. "Not only did he befriend everyone," said one nominator, "but he was the go-to person whenever anyone had problems or suggestions for USC Law." His genuine concern for others, willingness to serve his classmates and school, and exceptional leadership skills have set him on a course for success. I'm pleased to honor Mr. Amechi Akpom with a 2004 Shattuck Award.

booher and nutterDavid Booher and Karen Nutter
I'm going to talk about the next two Shattuck Award recipients at the same time, as some of their most significant contributions to USC Law have been joint efforts. Individually, each student has demonstrated extraordinary leadership in his or her academic and professional pursuits: The first student has volunteered for three years at the Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian Center, logging 450 hours of service each year. His honors include the Lesbian and Gay Lawyers Association's Donald R. Snow Scholarship and the USC Lamda Alumni Graduate Role Model Scholarship. He also has served as chair of the Hale Moot Court Honors Program and as a student writing fellow and instructor in the Legal Research, Writing and Advocacy Program.

The second student has a similarly long list of achievements. She also has volunteered for the Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian Community Center, as well as the Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund. With a PILF summer grant, she worked on three high-impact civil rights cases through the Western Law Center for Disability Rights. She participated in the Domestic Violence Clinic and published her note on domestic violence and women with disabilities in USC's Review of Law and Women's Studies .

But it is together that these two students have had the most impact at USC. As co-chairs of USC's Gay and Lesbian Law Union last year, they were challenged to lead the school through a change in the way the U.S. military is allowed to recruit at USC Law. Though the military's hiring practices violate our Law School's nondiscrimination policy, USC was forced last year to begin allowing military recruiters to participate in on-campus recruiting programs. The change had the potential to cause a wide rift in our Law School community, but because of the restraint and maturity demonstrated by these two individuals, students were educated about the issue and allowed to voice differing viewpoints without the inflammatory or threatening atmosphere felt at other schools facing the same situation. Though people may have disagreed on the issues, few could dispute that these students exhibited great leadership in their handling of a sensitive matter. I am pleased to honor Mr. David Booher and Ms. Karen Nutter with 2004 Shattuck Awards.

DumasJennifer Dumas
The next Shattuck Award recipient has made her mark at USC in ways both prominent and subtle. Nominators call her a "really great person," someone whose positive energy is infectious. Luckily for us, she has brought that positive energy to bear on a large number of activities and programs at USC Law School. In addition to serving a number of public interest programs, such as the Barrister's Domestic Violence Project, the Post-Conviction Justice Project, and PILF, she also has served as co-chair for the Women's Law Association, the student representative to USC Law's admissions committee, and president of Street Law. During her second year, she exhibited extraordinary leadership when she volunteered to organize a visit of the National Youth Leadership Forum on the Law, which brought 50 high school students from around the country to USC. With little advance notice, she arranged for administrators, faculty and law students to make presentations and ensured that the visitors not only learned about law school but also had a great time while visiting USC. And, her thorough documenting of the process and recommendations for the future will help create a lasting relationship between the National Youth Leadership Forum and USC. In recognition of her outstanding contributions to USC Law, I'm pleased to honor Ms. Jennifer Dumas with a 2004 Shattuck Award.

GrossmanJaclyn Grossman
This Shattuck Award recipient has one of the longer lists of extracurricular activities I've seen in a while. Before even coming to Law School, she volunteered in a presidential campaign, assisted in fund-raising events for the Make-A-Wish Foundation, practiced and taught figure ice skating, studied oil painting under a local artist, and played piano competitively for 17 years. Many of those activities continue today. But somehow, she has found time for Law School, and while here she has demonstrated the same dedication, hard work and leadership that made her a success long before she came to USC. She served as the Women's Law Association fund-raising chair, was runner-up in the Moot Court competition last year, and represents USC as a member of the National Moot Court team. As administrative vice-chair of the Hale Moot Court Honors program this year, she has been an exceptional leader. She spent hundreds of hours managing the 2004 competition and preparing participants for the challenge. She frequently surpassed the call of duty in her efforts, often without notice or praise. As one nominator said, "She always gives 110 percent without any expectation of being thanked or recognized." Well, we'd like to recognize her now. I'm pleased to honor Ms. Jaclyn Grossman with a 2004 Shattuck Award.

JOnesDanny Guggenheim
The final Shattuck Award recipient has had an impact on each of you, whether you know it or not. He came to USC with outstanding credentials: A graduate of Columbia University and captain of Columbia's ice hockey team, he'd already served in two legal internships and been honored by Los Angeles County for his pro bono service. At USC, he has been active in a number of programs, but his most wide-reaching work has been through his position as president of the Student Bar Association, where he has demonstrated exceptional leadership. This student aided in the creation of the Career Services Office's first student advisory council; conducted a survey on curricular preferences to assist the administration in developing the course schedule; and advocated for and helped organize the first "Dean's Forum," enabling me to talk frankly and directly with you about important issues affecting USC Law. He also worked with several senior administrators to create a new alumni association, which will have lasting benefits for all USC graduates. He has helped increase interaction among students and alumni and has, in general, been a tireless advocate for students' best interests at USC Law. I hope your applause for this person's hard work will outlast his short walk to accept this award. I'm pleased to honor Mr. Danny Guggenheim with a 2004 Shattuck Award.

Miller-Johnson award: Matthew Strugar
The recipient of this year's Miller-Johnson Equal Justice Prize came to USC with a conviction that he could use a career in the law to serve the underrepresented and exploited, and he is leaving USC this spring with that same goal. His dedication to public interest legal programs has been constant and impressive: he served as PILF's pro bono chair and has been instrumental in reforming USC's chapter of the National Lawyers' Guild, helping to bring a number of outstanding speakers to USC. Through NLG, he has volunteered on a number of police brutality cases, and through the Center for Constitutional Rights and our own Immigration Clinic, he has worked on several immigrants' rights cases. He also has volunteered at local public interest law organizations and at a public interest law firm. Through all of his actions, he has demonstrated a steadfast belief that the law, and his career in it, can empower the oppressed and serve justice to the afflicted. His commitment to public interest law is uncompromising. As one nominator said, "He's one of the few people I know who's willing to be arrested for what he believes in." That's dedication. I'm pleased to award this year's Miller-Johnson Equal Justice Prize to Mr. Matthew Strugar.

Mason Brown award: Keith Jones
It takes no stretch of the imagination to predict that this year's recipient of the Mason Brown Award will be a successful lawyer. In fact, as a participant and student supervisor in the Post-Conviction Justice Project, he already has proven himself to be an incredibly talented litigator and advocate. During the summer after his first year of law school, this student argued a case before the 9 th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. Many lawyers work a lifetime without having this privilege. According to his Post-Conviction instructors, this student was assigned the case specifically because they knew he had the intellectual ability and maturity to handle a challenging case. And clearly he did: He was successful in obtaining a reversal for his client. His advocacy skills also have garnered him the Judge E. Avery Crary Award and a LexisNexis Award for written brief, and he was one of four finalists in the Hale Moot Court Honors Competition last year. Always well prepared, prompt and thorough, this student possesses the very best traits of a successful lawyer. His interactions with clients and colleagues are characterized by the utmost professionalism, courtesy and thoughtfulness. He is, as one nominator said, "a wonderful person to work with." I'm pleased to honor Keith Jones with the 2004 Mason C. Brown Award.

ugaldeStaff award: Marcie Ugalde
Whether you are a first year or third year, it is likely that at some point this year this person has alleviated your law school anxiety simply be smiling and listening. But she doesn't just listen. She can give you advice about planning a study break, forming a new student group, OCI, externships, and just about anything else. And somehow, she always manages to have time for us, even when her calendar is full. She routinely goes out of her way to help us meet deadlines, give advice, and by encouraging. Always gracious, this person's positive attitude strengthens the entire USC Law community. Thank you, Marcie Ugalde, for your commitment to helping all of us with a smile. We are truly grateful.

ChasalowAdjunct Professor award: Michael Chasalow
Next, the adjunct professor award. Good professors know their course material well. Great professors know their course material extremely well and also convey it in a clear manner. Excellent professors, however, are not only experts in their field and effective instructors, but are also kind, understanding, and dedicated to their students' comprehension of the material. They answer students' questions in office hours, via email, and on the telephone. They have a genuine concern for the success of their students both in the classroom and in their future careers. They volunteer to teach additional classes despite also working full-time and managing 4 year old triplets at home. Professor Chasalow, you are truly an excellent Professor, and we are grateful for your enthusiasm, knowledge, humor, and your commitment to the students of USC Law.

BalabanFaculty award: Dean Melissa Balaban
Finally, the faculty award. Every member of our stellar faculty has demonstrated a commendable commitment to scholarship, students, and bettering our Law School. Few, however, have ever made as many tangible improvements in a single year as this person has. We used to complain that students did not have enough input with the Career Services Office - now 10 students meet with representatives from the Career Services Office on a regular basis. We used to complain that we needed more guidance with respect to getting a clerkship or landing a job as a 3L - now there is someone who's only job is to help 3Ls with clerkships and jobs. We used to be at a disadvantage relative to other top schools with respect to class ranking information - now, like at most of the top 10 schools, one student's accomplishments no longer come at the expense of another student, and we can more effectively compete for jobs with students from other top ranked law schools. Thank you, Dean Balaban, for all of your hard work on our behalf; you exemplify the dedication, motivation, and creativity that brought most of us to USC in the first place.