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High School Graduates Receive Vinson & Elkins Diversity Scholarships

Through the Vinson & Elkins Scholars Program, seven outstanding graduating high school students in Texas recently were awarded $10,000 college scholarships.

Vinson & Elkins’ Scholars Program, launched more than 30 years ago, is designed to encourage and support students of color and/or LGBTQ+ students who are interested in becoming lawyers. In addition to the financial award, V&E assigns students a lawyer mentor and will reimburse for a Law School Admissions Test (LSAT) prep course should the recipient pursue law school.

Since the V&E Scholars Program began in 1990, the firm has granted 175 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, including Jennifer Chacon who is currently an associate in V&E’s Dallas office, and Angie Garcia who is a J.D. candidate at Columbia Law School and will be joining V&E this fall as a new associate.

Paying it forward, Sherman Willis, a 1997 V&E Scholar, went on to law school and was instrumental in launching a similar scholarship program at his previous law firm which has been in place now for 15 years. One of his firm’s first scholarship recipients was Symone Sanders who currently serves as a Senior Advisor to Vice President Kamala Harris. Most recently, Willis partnered with law school deans, the head of his state bar association, and several law firms and businesses to create the non-profit Nebraska Legal Diversity Council. “I never forgot what the V&E scholarship meant for me and have continued to give back when I can,” he said.

Congratulations to this year’s seven Vinson & Elkins scholarship recipients who include:

AUSTIN

Keji Jurkin is an Ann Richards School for Young Women Leaders graduate and will attend the University of Southern California. Jurkin was Student Body President, Supervisor to the Black Students Union, and was the Co-Founder and Co-Captain of Model United Nations at her school. She was also selected to attend the Yale Model United Nation Institute, a selective week long program for high school students to sharpen public speaking and diplomacy skills. She was the recipient of the Austin Area Heritage Council scholarship and was recognized as an AP Scholar with Honors.

DALLAS

Loretta David is a graduate of Lake Highlands High School and will attend Northwestern University. David was Captain of the Mock Trial team and Vice President of the National Honor Society. She was recognized as a Captain for the Ron Brown Leaders Network, an AP Scholar with Distinction, and was a QuestBridge New American Award recipient.

“As an aspiring attorney, being selected to become a Vinson & Elkins Scholar encourages me to stay focused on my undergraduate education so I can be prepared for law school. With the support of V&E, I will one day enter the legal field ready to bring change to the community around me,” David said.

Shivi Sharma is a graduate of Coppell High School and will attend Northeastern University. Sharma was the Executive News Editor of her school’s newspaper and a member of National Honor Society. Additionally, she participated in the AT&T Summer Learning Academy and was selected to participate in the Dallas County DA Citizen Prosecutor Academy which provides citizens with information regarding the practices and methods of the judicial process.

Sharma said, “I am incredibly grateful for the V&E Scholars Program’s mentorship and financial opportunities which provide guidance and support in navigating this interdisciplinary field and finding my place within it.”

HOUSTON

Braxton Budd is a graduate of Westfield High School and will attend The University of Texas at Austin. Budd was President of the National Honor Society and Accounting Club. He was selected a Student Hero for the Houston Food Bank, receiving training and leadership experience in volunteer-based projects. He also interned with Mayor Sylvester Turner’s reelection campaign in which he operated a voter contact database and supervised a group of interns. He was awarded the David Keaton Seven Jewels scholarship and the Houston Police Officers Union scholarship.

“Since African Americans only represent roughly 5% of practicing attorneys, I am thankful there are initiatives such as this scholarship to make legal education more accessible to black and brown people,” Budd said.

Makiah Holliman is a graduate of Willowridge High School and will attend The University of Texas at Austin. Holliman interned with Fort Bend ISD Shared Dreams, assisting with organizing donations, researching strategies to build partnerships, and packing school supplies for children. She also volunteered at the Houston Food Bank and is a Genesys Works Young Professional.

Holliman said, “The V&E scholarship allows me more time to focus on my studies and enjoy the full college experience. This immense support motivates me to continue working towards my dreams of becoming a lawyer, knowing that I have people invested in my future who truly want to see me succeed.”

Min Ko Ko is a graduate of Mayde Creek High School and will attend Harvard University. Ko Ko was Valedictorian of his class, President of the Speech and Debate club, and Vice President of the National Honor Society. He was awarded the National Merit Scholarship, CollegeBoard Opportunity scholarship, and the Academic Decathlon State scholarship. He will intern this summer with the Texas House of Representatives for Representative Ann Johnson.

“As an immigrant and son of a refugee growing up with a low income background, a legal profession means a path towards success and stability. V&E’s commitment to diversity mirrors my own desire to achieve a legal career as a way to reach and represent marginalized communities,” Said Ko Ko.

Alexa Leon is a graduate of Heights High School and will attend The University of Texas at Austin. Leon was selected as an EMERGE Fellow which is an organization that empowers and prepares high-performing students from underserved communities to attend and graduate from selective colleges and universities across the nation. She was an Officer for her school’s dance team, Editor of the Heights News Network, and worked as a tutor in reading and writing for elementary school children.

To learn more about scholarships and fellowships for diverse students available from Vinson & Elkins – from high school seniors to rising second-year law students in the U.S. – visit the Diversity & Inclusion section of our website.

About Vinson & Elkins
For more than 100 years, Vinson & Elkins has provided deep experience in handling transactions, investments, projects, and disputes worldwide. The firm is a trusted adviser to clients in the most important industrial and digital industries. Learn more by visiting www.velaw.com or follow us on Twitter @VinsonandElkins or connect with us on LinkedIn.

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