2008 Justin Miller Awards announced at Graduation Gala

May 8, 2008Duke Law News

Duke Law School’s 2008 Justin Miller Award recipients were announced by the Office of Student Affairs at the Graduation Gala on Wednesday, May 7. The awards, presented in honor of former Law School Dean Justin Miller, are given to graduating students who embody and exemplify the ideals of integrity, intellectually curiosity, citizenship, and leadership.

Integrity: Jennifer Avery
Jennifer Avery was presented with this year’s Justin Miller Award for Integrity. Given to a person with strong principles, a solid character, and a true sense of altruism, this award recognizes a student who demonstrates an appreciation for honesty and justice, and instills these qualities in others.

“Jen’s honesty and integrity are clear just from knowing her and her attitude towards academics and social justice,” said fellow 3L Michelle Leutzinger. “The reason why she embodies integrity is that everything she has done at Duke Law is value-driven and deeply personal.”

While at Duke Law, Avery founded the leadership chair position and leadership committee on the DBA Executive Board. Through this role, she created the first DBA-hosted Leadership Experience, bringing panelists and a keynote speaker to the Law School to help students develop strategies for incorporating leadership into their professional lives.

“The Leadership Committee has brought a discourse about leadership and professional responsibility to the forefront of our school’s culture,” said outgoing DBA President Michael Pusateri. “Jen is entirely responsible for this development, and in no small way has contributed to what makes us truly great as a place of learning and as a community.”

Intellectual Curiosity: Jennifer Wimsatt
Jennifer Wimsatt received the 2008 Award for Intellectual Curiosity. This honor is presented to a student who truly enjoys learning — someone with an intellectual hunger and passion for the law who consistently shares this with and encourages it in others.

“Jen is able to engage those around her with her characteristic enthusiasm for learning. On several occasions I have been won over by her accessible style of argumentation, her persuasive ability to tell a story, and her sincere interest in learning,” said Michael Pusateri. “Her authentic passion for learning is contagious.”

While at Duke Law, Wimsatt was known for her involvement in academics and mentoring. She served as a VITA supervisor, Innocence Project supervisor, teaching assistant for American Law, research assistant for Professors Gulati and Purdy, and senior research editor of the Duke Law Journal. She was also a LEAD Fellow.

“Jennifer has been a tremendous mentor to other students,” wrote one nominator. “Particulary on DLJ, she has given extensive amounts of time and energy to mentor 1Ls and 2Ls. As her friend and classmate, I believe that Jennifer Wimsatt has greatly benefited the intellectual community of Duke Law School.”

Citizenship: Matthew Wolfe
Matthew Wolfe received this year’s Award for Citizenship. Presented to a student with a genuine enthusiasm for the Duke Law School community and someone who brings people together in constructive ways, the citizenship award honors an individual with a spirit of optimism who looks beyond individual differences to find common ground in mentoring relationships with others.

“Matt epitomizes being a citizen of the Duke Law School,” said classmate Michael Rosenberg. “He is a model of citizenship within the academic community and in the world more generally.”

Wolfe served on the DBA Community Service Board, Moot Court Board, Duke Law Journal, Public Interest and Pro-Bono Board, and also was co-chair of Parents Attending Law School (PALS).

“Matt is the most exceptional person I have met in my time at Duke Law,” wrote one nominator. “At times it seems as though he is a part of every group and activity on campus. He is consistently effective in not only showing his own enthusiasm, but instilling a genuine enthusiasm in his classmates.”

Leadership: Kristina Johnson
Kristina Johnson was named the recipient of the 2008 Award for Leadership. Presented to a student who has been especially active in the Law School and the greater Durham community, this award recognizes an individual who demonstrates initiative, leads by example, and takes responsibility for his or her actions while encouraging others to do the same.

Presenter Aisha Gayle described Johnson as “the quintessential humanitarian, dedicated to enhancing the lives not only of strangers but those lucky enough to call her a friend. Suffused with warmth, kindness, and authenticity, she is able to facilitate relationships between diverse members of the Duke and Durham communities with an ease that makes her unique among law students.”

Johnson led the 2007-2008 Dedicated to Durham program, served as president of the Duke Law Democrats, served on the PILF Board, and was a LEAD Fellow. She spent her 1L summer working for the United Nations of Nairobi.

“As a Duke Student, I am proud to share the name of this institution with her. There is no question that she will touch lives and inspire others to greatness, as she has done here in her days at Duke,” wrote 2L LaToya Edwards in her nomination. “Kristina is truly selfless, passionate, and invested in those around her. We are lucky not only to have had her at Duke, but to have her in the practice of law.”