UND Law Students Recognized as Outstanding Leaders

UND Law also earns Outstanding Student Organization Award

There’s just something about the students of the University of North Dakota School of Law. They’re practical, they’re proud, they’re committed and they are fantastic leaders in action.

At the annual UND Leadership Awards ceremony, 26 law students received the Lillian Elsinga Outstanding Student Leader Award. (You can find a list of all individual recipients at the end of the story.)

The Lillian Elsinga award recognizes students who exhibit exemplary leadership skills through their campus involvement, volunteer efforts, on-campus employment, and/or other life experiences. Lillian Elsinga served UND for over 37 years as the Associate VP for Student Services and Dean of Students. Advisors, faculty members, supervisors, and their peers nominate students.

Student organizations were also recognized at the ceremony for their exemplary job in promoting leadership development in their members and officers on campus.

Two out of the three organizations nominated for the award were from the School of Law. They were the Black Law Student Association (BLSA), and the Law Women’s Caucus (LWC), with the LWC ultimately winning the award.

The Student Organization of the Year Award seeks to recognize a student organization that supports volunteerism; uses campus and community resources; and positively represents the University in its public relations.

Law Women's Caucus Outstanding Student Organization

“I was pleasantly surprised,” said Erica Prefontaine Dean after LWC won the student organization of the year. “I think LWC’s success this year is due largely in part to the dedication of our Executive Board. The 2017-18 Board members (Lauren Milne, Danielle Foster, Victoria Taylor and Olivia Jureidini) worked hard to engage students and execute professional events. Additionally, we had the support of our exceptional faculty advisor, Professor Kit Johnson.”

Prefontaine Dean went on to say, “Serving as President for the Law Women’s Caucus has truly been a privilege. I have enjoyed working with fellow students, faculty and staff to promote women in the legal profession. The past year has been filled with conversations about women, leadership and power. I am proud that LWC has embraced this opportunity to raise awareness about the continuous need for feminism in a traditionally male-dominated field.”

The Law Women’s Caucus has been on UND's campus for 45 years and has previously won the Student Organization of the year award five times.

“The purpose and mission of the Law Women’s Caucus is to advance the rights and improve the position of women and all persons in society by furthering legal, civil, and human rights; and foster a closer relationship between law students of the University of North Dakota and other legal and women’s organizations” said Prefontaine Dean.

The other law school finalist nominated for the award, the Black Law Student Association, was recognized for their outstanding leadership skills this past year.

“Having BLSA as a finalist was an amazing accomplishment. The hard work of the board (Melissa Cosby, Karem Mokom, and Cassandre Saintilus) and group was refreshing to see. In previous years, BLSA was less active. As a member, seeing the prior low engagement pushed me to be a leader to help reinvigorate BLSA. For BLSA to be recognized for the hard work and dedication of a relatively small group was the pinnacle of a busy year. We couldn’t have done any of this without our exceptional faculty advisor, Grant Christensen.

“The Black Law Students Association is about confronting issues for future Black lawyers that may not be relevant to other groups. As a group, we strive to educate others about the experience of black lawyers in law school and in the legal community,” said third-year law student and President of the Black Law Student Association, Stephen Williamson.

Trish Hodny Advisor Award

The students weren’t the only connection to the School of Law that won awards. Patricia Hodny, advisor of UND’s legal fraternity Phi Delta Phi, won the Outstanding Student Organization Advisor Award, which recognizes student organization advisors for their commitment and dedication to students and their campus involvement.

The students recognized for the leadership awards should be proud of themselves. Leadership is a significant trait for School of Law students and an integral part of their values and character. We are proud to call them fantastic leaders in action.


Lillian Elsinga Outstanding Student Leader Recipients

Omar Abu-Dahab, Katie Carpenter, Zainab Ching-yin, Woodly Claircius Fenelus, Amber Cleveland, Melissa Cosby, Anna Dearth, Kate Drechsel, Terry Effertz, Kendra Enget, Jillian Gembler-Gauderman, Laura Goforth, Megan Gordon, Victoria Konidaris, Ethan Lee, Lauren Milne, Kelly Moe, Erica Prefontaine Dean, Scott Robillard, Santana Royer, Shelby Schields, Victoria Taylor, Alexis Tschosik, Suleiman Wadi,
Alyssa Wall, Stephen Williamson

By: Will Gordon