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.
Laura Savall JD'18
Laura graduated from Ripon College with a BA in Spanish and Psychology. Laura Savall is committed to social justice initiatives within Vermont. She has developed a court safety manual which allows victims of domestic violence equal access to justice on Relief From Abuse docket days in Vermont family courts. Laura is dedicated to social justice and is currently working at the Human Rights Commission. She hopes to practice in Vermont after graduating Vermont Law School.
Rachel Oest JD'18
Rachel grew up in New York and earned a Political Science degree at Mercyhurst University in Erie, Pennsylvania. As an advocate for social justice, Rachel dedicated a year to disaster and humanitarian relief through AmeriCorps NCCC/FEMA Corps in Columbia, Mississippi and also spent time working alongside Lois Gibbs at the Center for Health, Environment and Justice. While at Vermont Law School (VLS), Rachel spent her 1L and 2L summers working at the VLS Center for Food and Agriculture Systems and the Virginia Attorney General’s Office, respectively. At both, Rachel worked with underrepresented individuals to ensure their safety and success. Rachel intends to use her legal education to continue advocating for such individuals.
Andrea Folds JD'18
Andrea ("Danny") Folds is a Georgia native searching for people's sources of meaning and wellbeing. As an undergraduate, she studied Sustainable Development with a focus on Latin America, and as a seminarian, she learned the history and fundamentals of movement building and community organizing. Following a year of teaching history and literature at the Monteverde Friends School in Costa Rica, Andrea entered VLS to gain the legal tools necessary to address environmental issues impacting Latin American communities. She currently works as a clinician at the Environmental and Natural Resources Clinic, a legal intern at the Milk with Dignity Standards Council, and a research intern at Environmental Advocates for Latin America (AIDA). She will be complete her JD studies in 2018 and continue her work abroad.
Nico Lustig JD/MFALP'19
Before starting at Vermont Law School in August 2016, Nico worked as the Food Business Development Specialist at the Franklin County Community Development Corporation, FCCDC, in Western Massachusetts. In this role, she helped many New England farmers and start-up entrepreneurs develop and grow sustainable food businesses. She participated as a working group leader for the State of Massachusetts’ Local Food Action Plan; Co-chaired the Franklin County Food Council; and coordinated the New England Food Processors Community of Practice through the Farm to Institution New England (FINE) network. For 12 years before working for the FCCDC, Nico managed two regional Natural Foods Cooperative Markets—The Blue Hill Food Co-op in Maine and The Franklin Community Co-operative in Western Massachusetts.
Rasheta Butler JD'19
Rasheta grew up in Chicago, IL. and attended Northern Illinois University. Rasheta received two Bachelor's degrees, one in Political Science with and emphasis in public law and the other in Sociology. Rasheta went on to obtain her M.S.W. at Aurora University. While obtaining her Master in Social Work Rasheta worked full-time as a Teen Parent Specialist for the Department of Child and Family Services of Illinois. Then after, relocated to North Caroline to work in Wilderness Therapy at T.R.A.I.L.S Carolina working with adolescents. Rasheta came to law school with the desire to gain a deeper understanding of the law. Rasheta want to better advocate for her clients, specifically concerning juvenile justice and child custody issues. Rasheta will be spending the summer working at the Defender General Central office in Montpelier, VT.
Ashleigh Angel JD/MFALP'20
Before coming to VLS, Ashleigh served as an AmeriCorps member by working with adjudicated youth. She focused on teaching them sustainable gardening and horticultural practices and workplace skills. This experience drove Ashleigh to pursue a JD and a Master of Food and Agriculture Law and Policy to help combat hunger and instill a sense of attachment to the planet through the law. She hopes to gain the skills she needs to help improve the health of lower income individuals and instill a connection between those individuals and their environment. Ashleigh hopes to one day write policy for the Department of Education for the development of food and environmental curriculum in public schools.
Carly Orozco JD/MFALP'20
Carly Orozco is a California native. Carly received her Bachelor's Degree in Sociology from Portland State University. While in school, she volunteered for local organizations that focused on food justice and community health. She also worked for Sauvie Island Center, a non-profit that teaches kids about food, farming, and the land through hands-on field trips on a working organic farm. Carly hopes to use her education in the law to better support the communities she has worked with, and advocate for more equitable policy to create lasting change on a larger scale.
Edmond LeSesne JD/MARJ'20
Owen LeSesne went to undergrad at Oregon State University. Owen studied Political Science and Sociology with a focus on Law, Policy, and Society. During this time, Owen served as a Community Relations Facilitator for University Housing. Owen collaborated with multiple cultural resource centers to lead workshops on social issues and sat on our Campus' Diversity Budgeting Board, distributing $1.5 million for 14 cultural resource centers. After College Owen worked two years as a Clerk for Snohomish County District Court in Lynnwood, Washington. While there, Owen worked the front counter with intake and fines as well as the civil window with protection orders and civil actions. Now Owen is working on fulling the joint degree and hoping to get a certificate in International Law as well. After this, Owen wishes to work in Navy JAG and someday work for the State Department as an Ambassador.
Denise Holland JD'19
Denise Holland is a resident Vermonter, Denise comes to Vermont Law School as a non-traditional student following a fulfilling secondary teaching career in history, literature, and psychology. Prior to attending VLS, Denise completed her undergraduate studies at William Smith College and graduate work at Brown University. A substantial career in education made Denise aware of the impact that poverty, domestic violence, mental health issues, and substance abuse could have on American youths and their families, in addition to the need for increased social services and legal supports. Motivated by a desire to move beyond her role as a classroom teacher and provide legal services to under-represented groups, Denise plans to focus on social justice issues related to family law, immigration, restorative justice, juvenile needs in the legal system, and to promote access to vital educational and social welfare services in Vermont.
Sarah Puzzo JD'20, LLM Food and Agriculture Law '21
Prior to starting at Vermont Law School, Sarah worked with a number of NGO's in rural Western Pennsylvania and her home state of Connecticut. Sarah's interest is in food systems and food insecurity. In 2013 she began working with the Meadville Medical Center and the United Way of Western Crawford County to tackle health issues, such as type-2 diabetes, which often affect populations experiencing food insecurity or generational poverty. After returning to Connecticut, Sarah worked with No Kid Hungry's Cooking Matters program, recruiting volunteers and teaching classes on nutrition in hospitals and urban centers. Sarah Came to Vermont Law School to pursue a JD and an LLM in Food and Agriculture, and intends to tackle systemic food insecurity through law and policy. She has a special interest in putting three free and nutritious meals a day into public schools.
Since their creation in 2015, the Social Justice Mission Scholars have organized or participated in numerous events around campus and the community:
- Hosted and moderated a Vermont gubernatorial debate with the top candidates from each party;
- Created and awarded the first VLS Social Justice Scholars Alumni Award to honor a VLS alumnus who has demonstrated a deep and abiding commitment to causes of social justice;
- Partnered with the Animal Law Society to host a speaking event with Steve Wise, President of the Nonhuman Rights Project, to speak about his decades-long work fighting for the rights of animals through the legal system;
- Hosted a dinner with VLS Professor Reed Loder to discuss her research and scholarly work on the reintroduction of wolves into the Northeast United States;
- Led a group of VLS students, in partnership with the Animal Law Society, on a volunteer day at the VINE Animal Sanctuary in Springfield, VT to help maintain the grounds for over one hundred rescued farm animals.
- hosted Zephyr Teachout for a conference on her recent book, Corruption in America;
- co-sponsored the IBUTWA High Tea with BLSA and Women's Law group to support victims of domestic violence in the Congo, and have developed a project, "Soap to Soap," using sales of locally made Vermont soaps to support the IBUTWA soap-making project in Congo; and,
- co-sponsored a public debate with the VLS SPEAK organization on the Supreme Court's discussion on marriage equality with VLS Professors Greg Johnson Peter Teachout, and Jackie Gardina.