Seven members of the Class of 2021 win Justin Miller awards
The annual awards recognize graduating students who are nominated by their classmates for embodying the ideals of integrity, leadership, citizenship, and intellectual curiosity.
The Duke Law Class of 2021 honored seven of graduating students Thursday with the presentation of the annual Justin Miller Awards, which are named after the Law School dean who implemented the values that inspired the Blueprint and the LEAD program. The awards are given to students whose behavior and activities at the Law School best reflect the values of leadership, integrity, citizenship, and intellectual curiosity.
Zachary Kaplan ’21 and Kaitlin Ray ’21 both received the Citizenship Award, which is given to a student who shows “a genuine enthusiasm for the Duke Law School community” and who “brings people together in constructive ways.”
Kaplan “'radiates optimism, as anyone who knows him can attest,'” Assistant Dean for Student Affairs Lewis Hutchison said, reading from comments submitted by students who nominated him for the award that also noted Kaplan’s background as an educator and passion for promoting equity.
“A former fifth-grade teacher in Durham, his deep and humble interest in learning about racism and its impact on legal institutions has been evident since day one,” a nominator wrote. “We have no doubt he will continue to be a model citizen and member of the North Carolina Bar.”
Nominators called Ray “a role model for everyone,” noting that she “exudes kindness and understanding, but also never waivers from her principles.”
“She is incredibly hard-working, and simply being around her encourages us to be a better person,” one wrote. “She has never failed to answer the call of duty with positivity and a can-do attitude.”
The award winners were chosen from nominations by fellow students, and Hutchison quoted from the nominations while presenting the awards.
Ryan Kuchinski ’21 won the Integrity Award, which is given to “a courageous person with strong principles, a solid character, and a true sense of altruism.” The award winner must show an “appreciation for honesty and justice” and instill those qualities in others.
Hutchison said that Kuchinski was “described as kind, gracious, and supportive, never once speaking about himself unless absolutely begged to, never bragging about his (many) accomplishments, always striving to be the most helpful person around.”
Nominators noted that, in addition to being “'always prepared with snacks that he shares with everyone around him,'” Kuchinski “'is a genuine and honest person who puts others before himself.”
Hayley Lawrence ’21 received the Intellectual Curiosity Award. The award is given to a student who “has an intellectual hunger and passion for the law and consistently shares this with and encourages it in others.” The award does not go to the student who has the highest grades, necessarily, but to “a person who truly enjoys learning.'”
Hutchison read from one nomination that stated that Lawrence’s “intellectual curiosity is a constant amazement and inspiration to me. I have never met anyone who is as passionate as she is about law school. She has pushed herself to the limit of her capabilities every semester she’s been here because her goals include academia and a federal appellate court clerkship, both of which involve the highest levels of intellectual engagement with the law.”
The Leadership Award went to two recipients: Christine Mullen ’21 and Serena Tibrewala ’21. The award is given annually to someone who “demonstrates initiative and leads by example” and who “takes responsibility for his or her actions and encourages others to do the same.”
Hutchison quoted one nomination noting that Mullen “is a great leader, with a cooperative and wise spirit, and I always enjoy working with her.” He also listed some of her accomplishments, including organizing an open house for women in North Carolina interested in attending law school, as well as creating a new position for men on the board of the Women’s Law Students Association to provide allyship and support.
One nominator stated that Tibrewala “has been a key part of the Duke Law community for all three years that I’ve been here. Everyone knows her because she is a friend to all and an ally to anyone who needs her. She spends more time and energy than almost anyone I know working with the Duke administration and other student groups to help make Duke Law a better place.”
Lewis Malkin received the LLM Award for Leadership and Community Participation. The award is given to someone who is engaged with the whole Law School community while also showing leadership among LLM students, and who makes “effective efforts to promote integration of LLM and JD students,” among other things.
Quoting a nomination, Hutchison said that Malkin “'showed an extremely high degree of professionalism during his studies'” and took on leadership roles in group projects. “'What’s more, he cares very much about other students.'”
A book will be dedicated to each of the Justin Miller Award winners in the Goodson Law Library, and a plaque showing their names will be displayed next to the portrait of Dean Justin Miller.