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Social Justice Mission Scholars

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Social Justice Mission Scholars are dedicated to advocating for equal opportunity and civic engagement at the intersection of public service and social change.

Mission Scholarships support students who come to Vermont Law School with a cause, and who want to use the power of the law to make a difference in their communities and the world. Social Justice Mission Scholars are selected based on their previous experiences in social justice and an interest in public l service and social justice projects in the future. They are an active force on the VLS campus, partnering with student groups such as BLSA, ALS and SPEAK to host events and contribute to local community projects.

Faculty Advisor

Stephanie A. Clark, Esq. - Social Justice Mission Scholars Faculty AdvisorStephanie A. Clark
Social Justice Mission Scholars Faculty Advisor


Current Social Justice Mission Scholars

Monica Cooper Social Justice Mission ScholarsMonica Cooper JD'22
Chair - Social Justice Mission Scholars
Monica grew up in Peterborough, NH. Her passion as an advocate for disability rights stems from her personal and family background. She graduated UNH in 2018 where she studied Philosophy and Political Science. After graduating college, she moved to Southern Ecuador and co-found the non-profit association El Arte de Reciprocidad. She worked at the New Hampshire State Senate as staffer to the Senate Health and Human Service Committee and aide to Senator Jon Morgan and Tom Sherman before enrolling into Vermont Law School. She currently lives in Sunapee, NH with her partner and two pets. Monica is committed to developing her skills as a legal advocate to challenge the field of ableism that intersects with environmental justice.

Hannah Andrew Social Justice Mission ScholarsHannah Andrew JD'21
Hannah grew up in Massachusetts. She received her Bachelor’s Degree in Anthropology from Northeastern University. After college, she worked for the North Carolina Outward Bound School serving at-risk, adjudicated, and veteran populations through wilderness expeditions in the Everglades and the Blue Ridge Mountains. This experience drove Hannah to pursue a dual JD at Vermont Law School and a Masters of Environmental Management at the Yale School of Forestry. She hopes to be an advocate for expanded and equitable access to the environment for marginalized populations.

Mariana Muñoz Social Justice Mission ScholarsMariana Muñoz JD'21
Mariana was born and Raised in Guadalajara, Mexico, until immigrating to a small suburban town outside of Boston. Prior to Vermont Law School, Mariana attended The University of Vermont. Mariana Received a bachelor’s degree in political science from UVM in 2014; as well as a M.S.W, Suma Cum Laude in 2018. While working to obtain her M.S.W., Mariana was awarded a VT LEND fellowship. As part of this fellowship, Mariana worked in partnership with the UVM College of Medicine and The University of Vermont Medical Center, where she took part of an interdisciplinary team. The team focused on improving the health status of infants, children, and adolescents with or at risk for, neurodevelopmental and related disabilities, and their families through the development of culturally competent, family-centered, community-based care. Mariana came to Vermont Law in order to focus on promoting services to the underrepresent communities in the legal system.

Kayley Olson Social Justice Mission ScholarsKayley Olson JD'21
Kayley Olson is originally from Colorado. She spent her undergrad in Chicago where she got her B.A. in Public Policy. While in Chicago she did restorative justice work, working in a maximum security prison working with inmates on policy reform for mass incarceration. She also worked at the Cook County State's Attorney's office in the bail/bond unit, facilitating the new policy implementation of lowering bond for non-violent drug offenses based on the individual's socioeconomic status and ability to pay. Kayley came to Vermont Law School to pursue her passion for restorative justice in relation to mass incarceration. She hopes one day to pursue a career in prosecution all while implementing restorative justice techniques to the criminal justice system.

Theophilus Agbi Social Justice Mission ScholarsTheophilus Agbi JD'21
Theo attended Amherst College, where he earned his Bachelor of Arts in American Jurisprudence and French. There, he worked for Amherst’s Center for Community Engagement as a community organizer. An ardent activist, Theo has worked at not-for-profit organizations dedicated to protecting women’s rights and civil rights. Before VLS, he worked as a paralegal in a small Florida law firm dedicated to consumer protection. There, he helped resolve consumer contract disputes. Warm and friendly, Theo loves to work closely with others to ensure that their stories are told from the strongest position possible. As a former college athlete, Theo remains passionate about wellness and nutrition. Finally, Theo is fluent in French. Currently, he is pursuing the JD/M2 international joint degree created between VLS and Cergy-Pontoise. After graduating, Theo plans to sit for both the U.S. and French bar exams.

Nicole Caudell Social Justice Mission ScholarsNicole Caudell JD'22
Nicole is a descendant of indigenous and enslaved peoples of the Americas, so she was always taught to question the status quo. Nicole was A Better Chance Scholar and attended the George School, a Quaker Boarding school in Bucks County, Pennsylvania. She was also a Golden Key Scholar and graduated from Temple University with a Bachelor of Arts in Film. Nicole worked as a Criminal Clerk for Worcester County Circuit Court for nearly 14 years. In 2018, she was the Democratic Candidate for Register of Wills in Worcester County, Maryland. Her interest in social justice is twined with environmental justice because she seeks to empower and serve disenfranchised communities that are often collateral damage in globalization.

Katie Clukey Social Justice Mission ScholarsKatie Clukey JD'23
Katie grew up in Plattsburgh, NY and attended Clinton Community College and the State University of New York at Plattsburgh. Katie received two degrees, a Bachelor’s degree in Social Work in 2019 and an Associates of Applied Science in Human Services with an Alcohol and Substance Abuse Counseling Certificate in 2016. Katie was an intern at the Clinton County Mental Health and Addiction Services Clinic and at the Clinton County District Attorney’s Child Advocacy Center in New York where she gained knowledge and understanding involving social justice concerns. Katie’s history of public service includes areas in social work, substance abuse counseling, peer advocacy, and community self-help groups. These areas of service and experience have empowered Katie’s cause to go to law school and assist in reforms that push equality and lessen discrimination and stigma in our justice system.

Ricardo “Rico” J.J. Edwards Social Justice Mission ScholarsRicardo “Rico” J.J. Edwards MARJ’19 JD’22
Rico is from Brooklyn, NY. He received his Bachelors of Science Degree in Political Science from Tuskegee University. After college, he worked for the United Sates Environmental Protection Agency as a data analysist. Then he received his Master’s in Education Policy, Organization, and Leadership focusing on financial aid increases and “green” campus communities. These experience drove Rico to pursue a dual JD and Masters in Restorative Justice at VLS. He hopes to be an advocate for extended and evenhanded access to public/federal lands across America.

Caitlin Kennedy Social Justice Mission ScholarsCaitlin Kennedy MARJ’19 JD’22
Caitlin Kennedy received her Bachelor’s Degree in Comparative Literature from Hamilton College. Prior to attending Vermont Law School, Caitlin worked for the Center for Employment Opportunities, a national non-profit organization that offers formerly incarcerated individuals ongoing support to build career capital and gain financial stability through employment. Caitlin was the recipient of the Superstar Foundation’s 2018 National Veronica Award for her outstanding performance as a case manager and “job coach.” Working one-on-one with so many members of New York City’s justice-involved community inspired her to apply to Vermont Law School, where she is focusing on criminal law and restorative justice. In addition to being a Social Justice Mission Scholar, Caitlin is also a Schweitzer Fellow for her project “Aiding Returning Citizens’ Storytelling,” where she and another student work directly with incarcerated Vermonters to connect them with housing, employment and mental health services, and encourage successful reentry post-release. Caitlin intends to continue advocating for and supporting the justice-involved community in her legal career, with the ultimate goal of eliminating our national dependence on prison and instilling the principles of restorative and transformative justice in the American criminal justice system.

Liz Mackey Social Justice Mission ScholarsLiz Mackey MARJ’19 JD’23
Name (if different from what shows up on email)
Legal Name: Kaelin Mackey
Preferred Name: Liz Mackey (she/her/hers)

Liz grew up in southern Vermont, dodging sticks and corn ears thrown by her older brothers. From early on, Liz's parents instilled in her a small-town Vermont, service-oriented mindsight. Whether through trail maintenance (bushwhacking), or volunteer coaching, Liz developed a passion for supporting her community.

Surprisingly, Liz followed in her mischievous brothers' footsteps, attending Middlebury College for her undergraduate degree. In 2010, she earned a B.A. in History and obtained a VT teaching license in 7-12 Social Studies. In 2013, while serving as an AmeriCorps member in Michigan's Upper Peninsula, Liz earned her M.Ed. from Northeastern University.

Since then, Liz has taught, coached, and dorm parented students in middle and high schools. As of 2018, Liz transitioned to higher education, working administratively and teaching at Dartmouth College. Liz plans to use her JD to serve families in Vermont (her first true love) in a more direct and impactful way. She continues to volunteer as a Middlebury College Alumni Interviewer, farmhand, ice hockey coach, and Alumni Association Board member for Burr and Burton Academy. In her free time, Liz ski tours with her husband, runs with her dogs, and plays ninjas with her four-year-old.

Ronald Slaven Social Justice Mission ScholarsRonald Slaven JD’23
Ronald Slaven grew up in Michigan and received his bachelor’s degree in Geography from Western Michigan University. Prior to attending VLS he worked with the Boys and Girls Clubs of Greater Kalamazoo (BGC) while pursing his degree. In his role as Unit Director, they expanded their community garden and added an indoor hydroponic garden. Both gardens generated fresh produce that youth chose to donate to a local food bank. His experience with the BGC shed light on the larger systemic issue of racial and economic inequality. Ronald then shifted his career focus from teaching to law and took a position as a law clerk at a firm in Chicago, IL. Moving forward, his goal is to assist individuals and communities facing racial disparities.

Thomas Durham Social Justice Mission ScholarsThomas Durham JD/MARJ’23
Thomas Durham grew up in San Antonio, TX and along with his older sister and twin brother was raised by a single mother who worked hard to pursue her education and provide for her family. He graduated from Health Careers High School and went on to attend Texas A&M Corpus Christi College. After an unsuccessful couple of years Thomas left school and returned home to San Antonio. It was after attempting to figure out what to do next that Thomas enlisted in the Air Force and went on to serve at Nellis AFB.

Upon exiting the service Thomas eventually moved to Silver City, NM and began using his G.I. Bill to pursue a degree. It was while attending Western New Mexico University that Thomas became aware of the pervasive sexual assault problems plaguing the military and began working at Silver Regional Sexual Assault Support Services. After three and a half years Thomas graduated with his Bachelor’s degree all the while serving as a Victim's Advocate and then as a Lead Victim's Advocate for SASS. This work served to give Thomas a direction and a purpose and it is to this end that Thomas pursues his JD/MARJ at VLS.

Marysol Newton-Padin Social Justice Mission ScholarsMarysol Newton-Padin JD’23
Marysol hails from two hometowns, a small agricultural community in Quebradillas, Puerto Rico, and the rural community of Canterbury, New Hampshire. As a resident of a represented state and citizen of a US territory, she hopes to use her degree to advocate for greater representation and equal citizenship for all Puerto Ricans. Marysol graduated from Bowdoin College in 2017, receiving a BA in Government & Legal Studies, Anthropology, and Arabic. Shortly after graduating, she relocated to San Francisco and began working in healthcare tech before beginning at Bay Area Legal Aid (BALA) in Oakland C.A. Marysol worked in the Domestic Violence Unit at BALA offering emotional support, translation services, and connecting clients to community outreach organizations. Marysol is passionate about Feminist Legal Theory and changing the way our legal system interacts with survivors of domestic and sexual violence. She hopes to develop and implement cognitive psychology-based sensitivity training for current and future attorneys.

Mary Franco Social Justice Mission ScholarsMary Franco JD/MERL‘22
Mary attended Franklin & Marshall College, where she earned degrees in Government/International Relations and Spanish. While in college, Mary interned for U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren in her home state of Massachusetts and volunteered as a civics tutor in the local community. Prior to law school, she worked as a paralegal for a workers’ rights firm in Boston. Mary came to Vermont Law School to pursue energy law and policy to ensure clean energy access across all communities. She hopes to work towards a career fighting for energy equity and environmental justice.