Monday, May 30, 2022

CLEA Outstanding Student Award (plus one more): UDC's Nathan Jones, Jennifer Araujo, Francesca Bryce, Sarah Buskirk, Azuree Bowman, and Sophia Balemian-Spencer

In May 2022, UDC David A. Clarke School of Law presented the following awards to our graduating students.

The CLEA Outstanding Externship Student Award for demonstrating excellence in externship fieldwork and thoughtful, self-reflective participation in the externship seminar was presented to Nathan Jones (“Nate”).  Nate was a student in UDC Law’s evening program and the Washington Post’s first Freedom of Information Act Director. Nate is a recognized international expert on the 1983 Able Archer nuclear war scare and has quite literally written the book on that incident. As an extern, Nate worked with the National Security Archives, a nonprofit research institution which uses the Freedom of Information Act to force the government to release previously secret, historically important public records. Nate had a fantastic learning experience conducting research and crafting briefs on ongoing FOIA issues, including Civil Rights cold cases and dangerous brushes with nuclear war. Nate’s Externship experience confirmed to him that he wants to use the skills he learned at UDC Law to litigate Freedom of Information Act lawsuits in the future. Professor John Brittain taught the externship seminar and Spring 2022 and Assistant Director for the Office of Career and Professional Development, Heather Molina will teach it in Summer 2022.


The CLEA Outstanding Clinical Student Award for excellence in clinic fieldwork and thoughtful, self-reflective participation in the Clinical Program was presented to Jennifer Araujo.   Participating in the General Practice (GPC) and Immigration and Human Rights  (IHRC) clinics, Jennifer represented real clients and sharpened her written and oral advocacy skills. Under the supervision of Professors Tianna Gibbs and Andy Budzinski, Jennifer worked on discovery and argued remotely before D.C. Superior Court. Jennifer also worked with a woman who had difficulty obtaining counsel in the past due to economic and language barriers as part of the Access to Justice Advice and Brief Services Project. Jennifer speaks in this video about her experience as a student in the first semester of the 10-credit evening Clinic in Fall 2022. Under Associate Dean Lindsay M. Harris in the Immigration and Human Rights Clinic, Jennifer represented a young man afraid to return to his home country because of violence against LGBTQ individuals. Jennifer completed the asylum application, drafted his declaration, and researched and wrote the legal brief. Although heart-breaking at times and painful for the client, it was a rewarding moment for her when he expressed sincere gratitude after reading his statement. Following graduation, Jennifer will work at Blake Immigration in Alexandria, VA.


Finally, this year UDC Law also created an inaugural Outstanding Clinical Team Award for the clinical team that displayed excellence in clinical fieldwork collaboration. Our clinical faculty selected Francesca Bryce, Sarah Buskirk, Azuree Bowman, and Sophia Balemian-Spencer as the recipients of the 2022 Inaugural Outstanding Clinical Team Award. According to Domestic Violence Legal Empowerment and Appeals Project (DV LEAP), working under the supervision of Professor Marcy Karin, this outstanding team of student legislative lawyers demonstrated “energy, skills, creativity and deep commitment to addressing the critical impacts of climate change on [gender-based violence] survivors.” As “vital partners,” they advocated for local, national, and international stakeholders to acknowledge climate justice for survivors. Francesca Bryce pitched the White House Gender Policy Council to address these needs in the U.S. National Action Plan to End Gender-Based Violence. Azuree Bowman amplified the unique experiences of Indigenous survivors. Sarah Buskirk encouraged the U.N. Special Rapporteur on Violence Against Women to address related stressors that imperil survivors' health and safety. With research support from Sophia Balemian-Spencer, their work helped others realize that the law must do something about this overlooked reality. 

UDC Law is proud of each of our 2022 graduates. All students graduating from our day program took at least two seven-credit clinics and all students graduating from our evening program took at least one ten-credit clinic to graduate. With this, they are equipped to Practice Law, Promote Justice, and Change Lives!

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