The UW School of Law is proud to announce the most recent recipients of the Gates PSL Scholarship:
Yurij Rudensky, and
The Gates PSL Scholarship, founded in 2005 by a gift from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation in honor of law school alumnus and public service advocate William H. Gates '50, provides a full-ride scholarship each year to five students in exchange for five years of public service law practice.
Meet our 2010 Gates Scholars:
Leo Flor - 2010 Scholar
It was a career in the military that led Leo Flor to consider a career in law. 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.”
After an eight-year career in the Army, Flor realized that someone who had military and combat experience coupled with a law degree would be well positioned to more effectively alloy elements of defense, diplomacy and development.
Flor, a West Point graduate, said he 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.
“I believe what medicine can’t do on a permanent level, the law can.”
Currently working with the inner-city HIV population in Buenos Aires, Argentina Gusman plans to pursue both a J.D. 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 of homelessness.
“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, without housing.”
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 is currently a case manager for HIV-positive homeless adults in Seattle. 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 J.D. 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.