High School Graduates Receive 2020 V&E Diversity Scholarships
Through the Vinson & Elkins Scholars Program, seven exceptional graduating high school students in Texas recently received $10,000 college scholarships.
V&E’s Scholars Program is designed to encourage and support students from racial/ethnic groups historically underrepresented in the legal profession who are interested in becoming lawyers. This year’s recipients were selected from more than 100 applicants based on their significant academic achievements and demonstrated interest in working in a law firm.
“Through V&E’s Scholarship Foundation, we have been awarding scholarships to diverse students since 1990 and, now more than ever, we recognize the importance of supporting students of color to help diversify the legal profession,” said Mark Early, a partner in V&E’s Dallas office and member of the firm’s Scholarship Committee. “We could not be more proud of these accomplished students.”
These scholarships also offer each recipient the opportunity for a paid internship at V&E’s Austin, Dallas or Houston office during the summers of their undergraduate career, including an assigned lawyer mentor and reimbursement for a Law School Admissions Test (LSAT) prep course should the recipient seek to attend law school.
Since the V&E Scholars Program began 30 years ago, the firm has granted 164 scholarships to diverse graduating high school seniors. V&E Scholars have gone on to the nation’s most prestigious universities and law schools, later working in major corporations, government agencies and law firms.
Following are the seven 2020 V&E scholarship recipients.
Giselle Muniz is a Manor High School graduate and will attend The University of Texas at Austin. Muniz was an officer for her high school’s Student Government Association, a Parliamentarian in the National Honor Society and a member of the Mexican American Cultural Center. Muniz was the recipient of the Zonta Club of Austin’s Young Women in Public Affairs Award for women who demonstrate leadership skills and a commitment to public service and civic causes. Muniz said, “The V&E Scholars Program has given me the opportunity to embark on my journey to become a lawyer. I feel extremely grateful that I will have the undergraduate opportunity to intern at a law firm founded in Houston.”
Priscilla Beltran is a graduate of Lake Highlands High School and will attend Emerson College in Boston, Massachusetts. Beltran interned at a local law firm where she worked across departments completing projects for attorneys and staff. In addition to the V&E Scholars award, she received scholarships from the Mexican American School Board, Lake Highlands Women’s League, Lake Highlands Exchange Club and the Trailblazer scholarship from Emerson College. Beltran also received a Community Service Award presented by Lake Highlands Advancement Via Individual Determination (AVID), a college readiness program.
Paulina Morales is a graduate of the School for the Talented and Gifted and will attend Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine. She interned at the Texas State Representative District Office #107 where she wrote resolutions, reports and conducted research on legislation discussed in session. Additionally, she assisted in organizing and hosting community events for constituents. Morales was recognized as a Hispanic Scholarship Fund Scholar, an AP Scholar with Distinction, and was a Community Engagement Semifinalist for the Yale Bassett Award. “Because of V&E’s commitment to diversity, I’m now one step closer toward achieving my goal of working in the legal field where I hope to represent people in communities like my own,” Morales said. “An opportunity like this is rare, something that I will not let go to waste. I will always be grateful.”
Joshua Bih is a graduate of The Woodlands High School and will attend the University of Notre Dame in Indiana. Bih interned at a local law firm where he assisted in drafting property deeds regarding homesteads and quit claims. He also helped organize and create a new sorting system for open and pending clients to streamline efficiency. Bih was recognized as a National AP Scholar and an AP Scholar with Distinction.
Queen Eche is an Alief Kerr High School graduate and will attend Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire. Eche interned with the Texas Institute of Management where she helped students acquire leadership skills and knowledge necessary to be effective debaters and civic participants. She was the founder and host of Kinda Controversial, a student-led podcast aimed at increasing awareness of social issues, and was the National Urban Debate League’s 2019 Policy Debate Houston City Champion. Eche said, “Being a V&E Scholarship recipient lessens the financial burden that I have placed on myself, and gives me access to connect with lawyers that I can come to for help. My parents do not have degrees from the United States, so I was scared when choosing a profession because I needed one that I not only loved, but could use to provide for my family. There is no margin for failure, and being a V&E Scholar will motivate me to persevere.”
Melissa Reyes is a graduate of Northside High School and will attend Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia. Reyes was the Valedictorian of her class, a member of the National Honor Society and Secretary of Student Council. Additionally, she was invited to participate in the Global Kids Energy Policy Institute where students explored energy policy and how it relates to production, consumption, economic justice, climate change, migration and human rights. “As a Hispanic woman from a low-income family, thinking about college and what future career I may want to pursue has always been difficult,” Reyes said. “Imagining that one day I might become a lawyer has always felt like an impossible dream. I’m honored to be selected as one of Vinson & Elkins’ Scholarship recipients which has helped me to understand that pursuing my dream career is not impossible.”
Sherrod Session is a graduate of Alief Taylor High School and will attend the University of California, Los Angeles. Session interned at a local litigation law firm, was the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People Houston Youth Council President and captain of the debate team. He was awarded the Children’s Defense Fund Beat The Odds Scholarship and was a Houston Urban Debate League City Championship qualifier.
To learn more about scholarships and fellowships available from Vinson & Elkins for diverse students – from high school seniors to rising second-year law students in the U.S. – visit the Diversity & Inclusion section of our website. Applications from high school seniors in Texas for V&E’s 2021 Diversity Scholarships will open in December 2020. For more information, please contact Emma Durham.
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