(Frost Brown Todd, February 2021)
A record number of students from a record number of schools applied for Frost Brown Todd’s (FBT) 10th annual Diversity and Inclusion Scholarships. Of the nearly 100 applications, FBT’s Diversity and Inclusion Scholarship committee selected the six students who best demonstrated academic excellence and a commitment to advancing diversity, equity, and inclusion in their communities.
This year’s recipients include students from The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law, Texas A&M University School of Law, Texas Southern University Thurgood Marshall School of Law, and Northern Kentucky University Chase School of Law. One recipient was born in Israel and another grew up in Mexico. Recipients also come from Pennsylvania, Alabama, Ohio and Texas. For more information, visit FBT’s Diversity and Inclusion Scholarship.
“We continue to be in awe of the scholarship applications submitted since we launched this program in 2010. This year was no exception, despite the COVID-19 pandemic” said FBT Diversity and Inclusion Scholarship Committee chair Justin Fowles. “When we started our Diversity Scholarship Fund, our focus was supporting students in our legal community who champion diversity and inclusion. Our mission remains to empower students. Our committee has gained so much inspiration from meeting these future lawyers whose academic and volunteer work as students is beyond impressive. We are excited to watch them pursue their goals.”
“FBT’s scholarship program is just one of the ways our firm financially supports law students who are doing important diversity, equity, and inclusion work in our communities,” explained FBT Chief Diversity Officer Kim Amrine. “We have enjoyed getting to know these amazing future leaders and look forward to continuing the relationship into the future, no matter where their careers may take them. ”
Neema Ashou is a 1L student at The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law, where he is a clerk for the moot court team and serves as class representative for the Middle Eastern Law Student Association. He graduated magna cum laude with honors scholar distinction from Auburn University, where he majored in geography and served as president of the Iranian Students Association, project coordinator for the IMPACT Community Project, and mentor for the PLUS Diversity Program. PLUS honored Ashou for his work with the organization and his leadership on campus. After law school, he hopes to work at a law firm or secure a federal clerkship with the goal of one day becoming a judge.
Kendall Beard is a 1L student at The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law and a graduate of Penn State University. He majored in finance, served on the Pollock Diversity Board, and was twice named to the all-conference academic team while playing for the Harrisburg campus basketball team. He helped organize main campus-wide events to raise awareness about social justice issues. In 2019, Beard was named All-Regional Outstanding Attorney on the university’s mock trial team and won the Martin Luther King Oratorical Contest. He plans to work as a public defender after law school, advocating on behalf of individuals from impoverished communities who have historically been denied justice and fair representation.
Gillermo Gomez is a Harvard graduate who is currently enrolled as a 1L at Texas A&M University School of Law. Gomez worked as a paralegal for Legal Aid of NorthWest Texas, providing community outreach and education to the most underserved communities of Northwest Texas. He joined Legal Aid’s Community Revitalization Project to engage disadvantaged neighborhoods and work to transform communities through community lawyering. Since 2018, he has served as treasurer of the community organization Casa Del Inmigrante Fort Worth. After law school, Gomez plans to open his own firm focusing on immigration law with the goal of using his knowledge to develop a model to holistically address the legal issues impacting immigrant communities.
Charles Graham, Jr. is a 2L at Texas Southern University’s Thurgood Marshall School of Law. He graduated with honors from the University of Texas, earning a bachelor’s in government and African and African diaspora studies. Graham also earned his master’s in education from the University of Pennsylvania where he graduated summa cum laude. He taught special education and African American history while volunteering with Teach for America and spent five years working with YES Prep Public Schools in Houston. In 2020, he was named a National Bar Association Black Lawyers Matter Scholar, a National Association of Minority and Women Owned Law Firms Scholar, a Blask Fellow, and a Houston Bar Association Diversity & Inclusion Scholar. Graham previously clerked for Disability Rights Texas and served as a judicial intern for the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas. Graham hopes to gain a judicial clerkship after graduation, followed by a career in private practice focusing on labor and public interests law, education, and civil rights matters.
Munis Safajou is a 2L at Texas A&M University School of Law and a graduate of Brandeis University, where she earned a Bachelor of Science in public health and Middle Eastern studies. Safajou was born in Israel to Persian Bahá’í parents who fled religious persecution after Iran’s Islamic revolution in 1979. She attended Brandeis through the Wien International Scholarship Program, a highly-competitive full merit scholarship. During college, Safajou co-founded The Right to Immigration Institute (TRII), a nonprofit that seeks to train undergraduate students to become accredited representatives with the goal of aiding non-citizens navigating the complex immigration system in the United States. She is actively involved in her law school community, leading the school’s inaugural first-generation program and serving on the Diversity Council, the Women of Color Collective, and the Student Bar Association. She is also a student ambassador, a research assistant, and a teaching assistant for legal writing. Following law school, Safajou intends to practice at a large firm and contribute to the firm’s corporate social responsibility efforts.
Kimberly Zenteno Valladares is a 2L student at Northern Kentucky University Chase College of Law, where she was honored with distinction as a John Marshall Harlan Diversity Scholar. She competes on the trial advocacy team and served as a representative of the Criminal Law Association while also mentoring other students. Zenteno Valladares was born in the United States but grew up in Mexico until she returned stateside alone at age sixteen to learn English and complete her high school education. She became the first member of her family to attend college after receiving a full scholarship to Xavier University, where she majored in criminal justice, excelled academically, and pursued leadership roles in organizations advocating for tolerance, justice, and equality. Zenteno Valladres continues to consider the kind of legal career she will pursue and hopes that her position as a summer associate this year will help to clarify her ambitions.