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Pre-law students earn honors for graduate studies

Posted on 04.11.2018

As the semester comes to a close, three of the seven Greyhounds who plan to attend Indiana University McKinney Law School in the fall received exceptional scholarship opportunities this semester.

Senior history and political science major Schuylar Casto received a Kennedy Scholar scholarship from IU McKinney, located on the Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis campus. Casto is the first UIndy student to receive the honor, which is the top scholarship offered by the law school.

The Kennedy Scholarship, named for U.S. Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy, consists of one year of full tuition, plus an additional $6,000 stipend for living expenses and spring break trip to Washington, D.C.

“This came out of left field, honestly,” Casto said. “I was incredibly surprised and blessed. I don’t think I spoke intelligible words when they called to tell me I got it.”

Prior to receiving that call, Casto went through a day-long competition in which 18 candidates were selected to attend the event at the IUPUI campus. According to Casto, the attendees underwent five rounds of interviews and a dinner at the Skyline Club downtown as part of the assessment.

Assistant Professor of Political Science and Pre-Law Adviser David Root said that although many students focus on interviews as the most important part of the evaluation process, each event required of students considered for the Kennedy Scholars program is equally important because judges are constantly observing the candidates throughout the day. According to Root, Casto’s intelligence made him an obvious choice for the Kennedy scholarship.

As a student with a pre-law concentration, Casto said that although he met all the academic qualifications necessary to be eligible for a Kennedy Scholars award, he did not expect to receive one, particularly after meeting his competition.

“There were definitely people [at the competition] where it’s like, ‘Okay, you’re very impressive, I can definitely see you getting that, I definitely want to buddy up to you during this time’ and make sure I have a study partner later on,” Casto said. “It was very surprising [that I won], and it was kind of nice because I didn’t expect to get it and so I kind of went in with less pressure than a lot of the other people did.”

Like Casto, political science major and December graduate Jason Marshall will attend IU McKinney in the fall. Marshall, however, was the first recipient of a new partnership program between UIndy and IU McKinney known as the UIndy Law Scholar award.

The partnership was spearheaded by Root, who used contacts from his time studying at IU McKinney to create the scholarship. According to Root, aside from academic achievements, campus leadership is the main prerequisite for the UIndy Law Scholar award.

“The biggest thing for that [UIndy Law Scholar] is campus leadership. How do you get involved on campus and demonstrate leadership capabilities?” Root said. “He [Marshall] is a quintessential campus leader. He was involved as the Pre-Law Student Association President, he was President of Indianapolis Student Government, he sat on various committees that were commissioned by the president of the university and the provost. So he was involved in big campus leadership opportunities.”

Due to a conflict with another scholarship that Marshall received from IU McKinney, however, he will not receive the financial award that comes with winning UIndy Law Scholar. He does, however, retain the title and will act as a liaison between UIndy and IU McKinney.

“Basically, [my responsibility is to] retain that relationship with the school, with the professor, Dr. Root, the pre-law student association,” Marshall explained. “So any events that are linked between UIndy and McKinney, UIndy visits there or McKinney comes and visits the school, and as a representative to talk to the students that are here on campus and to the professor, to keep them informed of what’s going on at that law school to give students perspective on what that law school really is and what’s going on and what it takes to be a student.”

Due to Marshall’s situation, a second UIndy student, James Salam, was chosen to also gain the title of UIndy Law Scholar and the monetary award. Salam graduated from
UIndy in 2017 as a political science major and plans to enroll in law school at IU McKinney in the fall. Salam said that he was honored to receive the award not only because of t what the UIndy Law Scholar title represents.

“The honor of, first of all, being recommended to apply [was an honor]. And then being able to be a person who can be a representative of UIndy at IU McKinney as a law student there,” Sedam said. “I don’t take that lightly; I see that as a pretty prestigious honor that I could represent the University of Indianapolis as I go out and continue to work with school. And what it represents to be a Law Scholar means that there was an academic accomplishment and then there was a leadership component that was talked about in the application that does not stop when I leave here but it’s required to continue once I’m at the school.”

Root said that the UIndy Law Scholar award is an opportunity for students and important recruitment tool for the pre-law program on campus. As the only law school in Indianapolis, IU McKinney allows UIndy students to complete their degree in the city and increases their chances of local job placement.

According to Root, the future alums who will represent UIndy at IU McKinney are an exceptional class, and the three students that earned scholarships are prime examples of that.

“Schuylar, Jason and Jimmy have each earned tremendous awards,” said Root. “They represent a fantastic group of pre-law students moving on in their legal education and professional careers thereafter.  We are immensely proud of them and look forward to watching and helping them develop into great lawyers, community leaders and distinguished UIndy alum.”

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