Students Receive Dillard Scholarships

September 8, 2010

Two members of the Class of 2013 have received the most prestigious scholarship awarded by the Law School.

Donald Shum and Ese Okuma received Hardy Cross Dillard Scholarships, named in honor of the school's fifth dean, a 1927 graduate and retired judge of the International Court of Justice.

"Donald and Ese are terrifically accomplished students, and we were very fortunate to convince them to join us at the Law School," said Professor Darryl Brown, who helped select this year's recipients. ."I'm sure they'll continue the long line of Dillard Scholars and other talented graduates of Virginia Law who go on to make impressive contributions to the profession in the course of their careers. And in the meantime, they're great people to have contributing to our classrooms and community."

The scholars were selected from the most competitive applicant pool in Law School history. (More)

Meet the scholars:

Ese OkumaEse Okuma
Dillard Scholar

Hometown: Lithonia, Ga.

Education/degrees: Georgia State University; B.S. in psychology

Notable work experience:
During college, I had the opportunity to study cross-cultural psychology in China. I also worked closely with a Georgia attorney/professor to conduct research for a book entitled "Mass Communication Law in Georgia." Concurrently, I served as a partner to an inner-city elementary school in Atlanta, where I worked to bring educational resources to underprivileged students. This past summer, I worked as a project assistant at Alston and Bird, LLP in Atlanta.

Why law?
In a world rich in diversity, it is essential that the way we operate take into account the differences between individuals. Lawyers have the opportunity to voice the concerns of those who would not otherwise be heard and advocate on their behalf.

Why Virginia Law?
It was important to me to be able to relate to my classmates. Upon visiting, it became apparent that the students here were not only brilliant, but extremely down to earth. Also, Charlottesville seemed to be the perfect college town.

What would you like to do with your law degree?
My immediate plans are unknown. I am excited about exploring the different areas in the legal field in the next few years. Ultimately, I would like to become a judge.


Donald ShumDonald Shum
Dillard Scholar

Hometown:Scottsdale, Az.

Education/degrees:Washington University in St. Louis; Finance, Accounting and International Business

Notable work experience:
Immediately after graduation, I worked for a small actuarial firm in Arizona that designed, administered and consulted on pension plans for small businesses. After a few months, I left the actuarial field and joined a real estate investment and brokerage firm that specialized in multi-family transactions. In large part, most of my duties consisted of seeking out properties that fit our criteria and underwriting the deals for potential acquisition.

However, given prevailing economic turmoil, there was relatively little action on the market, and I had the opportunity to work on various other projects. Most notably, I worked closely with a portfolio of multi-family properties that were for the most part failed condo-conversions. Because of the complexities underlying this distressed portfolio, I was able to learn a great deal about the significant role the legal framework plays in resolving disputes and providing a foundation for business.

Why law?
I've always been interested in law, and through my undergraduate education and work experience I've come to understand the integral relationship between law and business. I chose to study law to learn more about this connection as well as the broader implications of law in our society.

Why Virginia Law?
My goal was to attend a law school where I would be able to receive a top-notch legal education while also enjoying my time there. More than any other law school, I believe UVA provides students the best opportunity to achieve and maintain a strong balance between their studies and their life outside the classroom. My positive interactions with faculty, current students, and other prospective students at admitted student's weekend helped to finalize my decision.

What would you like to do with your law degree?
Given my background and interests, I am very interested in corporate law and mergers and acquisitions. A law degree coupled with my business background will provide me with an understanding of both the legal and business aspects of large transactions. Eventually, I hope to be able to use my experience to contribute to and craft public policy. At the same time, it is very early in my legal education and I will leave myself open to every aspect of the law.

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