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
Leo Flor - 2010 Scholar
Flor is a West Point graduate who comes to law school after an eight year career
in the Army. As an infantry company commander in the 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat
Team in Kunar Province, Afghanistan, Flor was responsible for leading security operations
with his soldiers and Afghan police and provincial governments. Military operations
moved swiftly and efficiently, but were often met with resentment by the Afghans
they were trying to help. At the same time, NGOs could earn consistent Afghan support,
but were stymied by lack of resources or slow decision processes.
"After spending 27 months in Afghanistan and Iraq," said Flor, "I am convinced we
need broadly educated and experienced leaders to operate successfully in the space
between rushing to failure with bad information and waiting until failure for perfect
information." Flor realized that someone who had military and combat experience
coupled with a law degree would be well positioned to more effectively employ elements
of defense, diplomacy and development. Flor hopes his legal education will lead
him to a career in helping conflict-stricken communities establish and reinforce
culturally compatible Rule of Law.
Johanna Gusman - 2010 Scholar
With degrees in biology, biophysics, and physiology, Gusman was well on her way
to pursing a medical career when a trip to South Africa inspired her to become a
physician who would be a champion for the poor.
"I played with children who lost parents who could have been saved with proper medical
care," said Gusman, who earned her bachelor's degree from Virginia Tech. "I spoke
with doctors who were frustrated with a medical system that saw patients as dollar
signs, not human beings."
Fast forward a few years, when Gusman was majoring in biophysics at Georgetown University.
She was sitting in a health law class when her professor said, "Put a good person
in a bad system, and the system wins hands down." Gusman realized at that moment
that all the best doctors and medical advances could never solve the disparities
in health and medicine around the world – it would take changes in laws and legislation.
That's when she was inspired to go to law school.
Currently working with the inner-city HIV population in Buenos Aires, Argentina,
Gusman plans to pursue both a JD and Master's in Public Health at the UW.
Sarah Lippek - 2010 Scholar
Sarah Lippek has worked with marginalized communities, including homeless youth
and injection drug users, in Seattle and New York. In Seattle, she served as a street
outreach worker, a volunteer coordinator, and as director of a youth shelter. In
New York, Lippek implemented the first syringe exchange in Queens, collaborating
with drug users to disseminate health information through their existing social
networks. Like many of the other Gates Scholars, Lippek saw time and again that
social services could only go so far.
"Legal reform can address the ways poverty is created and maintained in our society.
Justice requires redistribution, not only of resources, but of authority and responsibility,"
she said. "Legal training will help me pass along valuable tools to people who might
not otherwise have access to them."
Lippek earned her bachelor's degree through the CUNY Baccalaureate for Unique and
Interdisciplinary Studies in New York City, and her Master of Arts from Central
European University in Budapest. Now, she's thrilled to have the opportunity to
attend law school at the UW.
"I like that law is a versatile tool – a legal degree is a technical degree, and
can make you more effective in many different situations. That's one of the reasons
I'm very excited about attending the University of Washington."
Yurij Rudensky - 2010 Scholar
From the time his family emigrated to the U.S. from the Soviet Union when he was
five years-old, Yurij Rudensky's family instilled in him a sense of social justice
and the importance of education.
"My parents would remind me and my siblings that, in the U.S. you could pursue things
that you couldn't do at home," he said. "One of those things was the ability to
work toward the common good."
As a result, even before he attended Yale University, Rudensky knew he would pursue
public service work, possibly public interest law. He decided that the best way
to choose the right direction to go was to go get some experience.
He started out as a volunteer and then was hired as the program manager of the Housing
Justice Project run by the King County Bar Association, which provides representation
to low-income tenants facing eviction or other landlord/tenant problems. His experience
taught him how difficult life quickly could become for families living on the brink
"Housing should be viewed as a right, not a public benefit. There is no way someone
can go through a family legal dispute or fight immigration issues, for example,
Rudensky hopes to put his law degree to work transforming the court system, especially
as it relates to housing and consumer protection.
Michael Windle - 2010 Scholar
Michael Windle leaves a position as a case manager for HIV-positive homeless adults
in Seattle to come to UW Law. He talks about one client who has abused "every substance
he acquires" and smells like urine. Another client he describes as having an "affinity
for ethanol and distaste for clothing." These clients are why Windle, a Seattle
Pacific University graduate, wants to become a lawyer.
"So many of my clients are in a Catch 22 situation," he said. "They have to have
housing to address the mental illness which fuels their substance abuse. But, addiction
keeps them from having stable housing or medical care." Policy change and legislation,
said Windle, is one way to provide solutions to these much larger problems that
direct care cannot address.
Windle, who will pursue a Master's in Public Health in addition to a JD while at
UW, knows from experience that homelessness and substance abuse is not just a U.S.
problem. The son of missionaries, Windle grew up in Bolivia and saw that the same
problems could be found on pretty much any street of any city in the world. Only,
in the developing world, there are little or no programs, resources, or legislation
that work to prevent them.
Windle's dream job, he said, would be to work with policy makers around the world
to establish global mental health and chemical dependency care.