Gates Public Service Law Program logo  

Gates Public Service Law Scholars

Gates PSL Scholars have the opportunity to attend the UW School of Law and then pursue public interest law without the crushing burden of educational debt. The scholarship program covers all cost of tuition, books, room and board and incidental expenses during law school. In exchange, students dedicate five years to public service. Each of the Gates PSL Scholarship recipients say the chance to earn a law degree from one of the finest schools in the nation free of any debt is a dream come true. The financial assistance provided by the scholarship allows them to move directly into jobs doing what they love – providing public service to those in need.

Joan AltmanJoan Altman - 2009 Scholar

Joan Altman said it was the UW School of Law's public interest community and focus on health law that made it a "good fit" for her public service goals and why, ultimately, she chose the UW to study law.

"In my work, I've seen that the intersection between law and public health is where health policy is formed," she said. "Interpretation of the law has a direct impact on how health programs are funded, implemented, and monitored."

Altman has worked with federal government healthcare programs for the last five years, most recently at the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services in Washington, DC. As a public health professional, she has worked to implement and improve programs that serve disadvantaged populations. She said one of her goals will be to transform her understanding of the law into programs and policies that improve healthcare access and cultivate conditions for healthier lives worldwide.

Altman went to work in health research after graduating with two concurrent bachelor's degrees in science from Wesleyan University. She earned her Master’s of Public Health from Yale University, where she translated her thesis research into a program that continues to provide free medical care to uninsured residents of rural Connecticut.

Mike FeltonMike Felton - 2009 Scholar

Incoming Gates Scholar Mike Felton will find himself on the other side of the desk when he arrives at the UW School of Law next fall. For the past nine years, Felton has worked as a teacher and principal in a small fishing community on Maine's Vinalhaven Island. He said it was his experiences at the Vinalhaven School that influenced him to apply to law school.

"I've been shaping education policies at a community level. Now, I want to be involved in public policy on a larger stage."

Felton said he has always taken an interest in communities and how they function, which was one reason he went into public education. He went to Vinalhaven to help affect change on a small level, but it was harder than he expected to integrate smoothly into the community. The first year as a teacher, students tested him to see if he was serious about staying and he had to supplement his salary by mowing lawns. Through what he called a "combination of courage and desperation," he stayed.

"It was my work with students that taught me the most about how society functions and what it takes to make a difference," he said.

Felton received his bachelor's degree from Bowdoin College and a Master's of Education from the University of Maine.

Ariana FloresAriana Flores - 2009 Scholar

Growing up in a working-class family, Ariana Flores said she learned the value of public service early on.

"It gave me an appreciation of the social safety net," At the same time, her parents instilled in Flores the importance of advocating for and helping those in need. "Even though we were often down and out, my parents would be the first to lend a hand," she said. As a result, Flores said she knew would work in public service. "I learned that I could have an impact on others, simply by speaking up."

A graduate of Tufts University, Flores has worked for agencies focused on healthcare, workers' rights, and, most recently, LGBT equality. As a healthcare organizer for Jobs With Justice in Boston, she worked on an amendment aimed at making health care coverage a right for every Massachusetts resident.

"The amendment didn't pass, but it got me thinking about health care in a way that I hadn't before," she said. "Rather than deciding who should have access to health care, it should be about how to deliver health care to everyone most effectively."

As a result of her experience on the amendment campaign, Flores realized that getting a law degree was "a way in which I could do the work I wanted to without having to compromise my ideals by having to depend on an organization for strategy or vested interests."

Hilary HammellHilary Hammell - 2009 Scholar

Hilary Hammell is coming to law school to build bridges - not steel and cable structures, but connections between people.

"I'm interested in how communication can be used to build consensus," she said. "I see how the law can be used to build bridges between groups who may not agree on the issues, but who want to reach a mutually beneficial solution."

Hammell said she has worked in public-interest organizations her entire life, but it was her recent experience living in Honduras, then working with the Center for Reproductive Rights in New York, that convinced her she wanted to focus on women's issues. As a teacher with an organization called BECA, Hammell started thinking about how issues of underdevelopment had to do with women's rights, especially the right to health.

"So many indicators of progress in developing countries are doomed if stigma and culture still trump the law."

Hammell graduated from Yale University with an art degree. She admitted that while her academic background may be "unorthodox" for a public-interest law program, graphic design is a valuable cross-cultural communication tool. "I yearn to make the arcane accessible."

Katherine KirklinKatherine Kirklin - 2009 Scholar

Having a father who practiced pro bono civil litigation was one influential factor for Katherine Kirklin to consider a career in public service law.

"I have always conceived of the legal profession as a public service endeavor," she said.

But Kirklin's own passion for service developed as an environmental studies major in college. During her sophomore year in college when she interned at the United Nations Development Programme in Chile, Kirklin said she saw how environmental policies, or the lack thereof had direct influence on communities, especially the underprivileged. Kirklin said she became interested in pursuing environmental issues, looking for a way to make an impact in the areas of environmental justice, sustainability, climate change, and resource management.

"The thing that really attracts me to the legal profession is that it offers an opportunity to simultaneously address an issue right now, in real-time, while also contributing to larger changes in society."

Kirklin said she was impressed with and excited about the commitment to public service at the UW School of Law.

"After visiting the campus I had this tangible feeling that this was the place I was meant to be."

Last updated 5/7/2014