On April 17, Fordham Law’s Public Interest Resource Center (PIRC) recognized nearly 300 students at its 32nd Annual Public Interest Awards Ceremony, celebrating their contributions to public interest work.
Dean Matthew Diller and Leah Horowitz ’06, assistant dean for public interest and social justice initiatives, provided opening remarks to kick off the event.
“I always find this evening’s event to be one of the high points of my year,” said Dean Diller. “Our motto [“In the service of others”] is part of our DNA and one of the traditions that binds us together. All of you being honored tonight … have excelled and have dedicated yourselves to using your time at Fordham Law to help others. That, to me, is what this is [all about].”
“Most of you bravely started law school in the midst of a pandemic, but that didn’t stop you from reaching [out to]each other, addressing those barriers, forming powerful alliances, and working together to advocate for racial and social justice and serve individuals—all while connecting with each other,” said Horowitz. “You fed and nurtured our beautiful and rich public interest community here at Fordham Law with your love, action and innovation … and as you have done so brilliantly here with our public interest community, I encourage you to continue to nurture, appreciate, and find support in the [legal]community.”
Recognizing This Year’s Outstanding Students
Introduced by fellow student Patrick Cucurullo ’23 as a “champion of the working class,” Abrahim Assaily ’23 received this year’s Public Service Valedictorian Award for demonstrating, among other qualities, commitment to the cause of social justice, exceptional leadership, and devotion to public service. Assaily is the outgoing 3L president of the Fordham National Lawyers Guild and was a Justice John Paul Stevens Public Interest Fellow with the Farmworker Justice Fellowship last summer, among other accomplishments.
The 1L and 2L Public Interest Student of the Year Awards were presented to Jalyn Radziminski ’26 and Rachel Zhu ’24, respectively. A longtime social justice advocate, Radziminski works in the disability and racial justice space, serves as the director of engagement at the Judge David L. Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law, and is the founder of Count US IN, the first Indiana-based nonpartisan nonprofit led by Black, femme, and disabled community organizers to increase and diversify civic engagement and voter turnout. They are a Stein Scholar 1L rep and the pro bono chair of the Fordham Evening Law Students Society. Zhu is a Stein Scholar and sits as a member of the Stein Scholars Council. She previously interned at the New York City Office of the Attorney General Environmental Protection Bureau, where she fought to lead a protection campaign for New Yorkers on the issues of Superfund sites, urban flooding, lead contamination, and environmental justice.
Graduating Students Complete Over 129,000 Hours of Service Work Ahead of Commencement
The PIRC Student Leadership Awards were presented to approximately 50 graduating students who served on the boards of directors of one or more student organizations associated with the Public Interest Resource Center for their outstanding commitment and efforts.
Eighteen students successfully completed the requirement for the Stein Scholars Program in Ethics and Public Interest Law.
The final set of awards of the evening—the Archibald R. Murray Public Service Student Awards—were awarded in recognition of students who had completed more than 100 hours of community service and pro bono work during law school. In total, 284 soon-to-be graduates were named Murray Award recipients, with a total of 129,317 hours of pro bono, clinical, and community service work completed. Of the 284 students, 179 members performed between 100 and 249 hours of service; 64 members completed between 250 and 499 hours of service; 45 members completed between 500 and 999 hours of service; and 33 members completed 1,000 or more hours of service.