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University of Houston Law Center launches Fuel the Future, a new scholarship initiative

Fuel the Future

Nov. 2, 2021 - For Autumn Brehon, a second-year law student at the University of Houston Law Center, life meant getting up at three in the morning for a part-time job to support her education. Unfortunately, that meant the focus on studies suffered.

However, after receiving a scholarship, she was able to cut back her hours. Now, she’s on the Dean’s List.

“I would not be able to do everything that I do if I had to work more hours,” she said.

Brehon is one of the countless examples of students who have benefited from annual scholarships. To attract and retain top students and promote a more diverse student population, the UH Law Center is making a large, concerted effort to increase the number of scholarships through its new Fuel the Future Initiative.

On Oct. 25, UH Law Center officially launched Fuel the Future, a new plan to help raise money for scholarships, with a virtual launch celebration. The event included a presentation by Dean Leonard M. Baynes, talks by donors and testimonials from current students. The goal of Fuel the Future is to raise $10 million by 2025, and it has already raised $1.6 million.

Dean Baynes shared the message and vision of Fuel the Future by calling to mind the upcoming 75th anniversary of the school, emphasizing that the aim is to ensure the future is as bright as the past has been. He also shared that the new John M. O’Quinn Law Building will be open next fall to provide a brand-new facility and enhanced learning experience for students, all made possible by the generosity of donors and alumni.

He additionally spoke of the importance of diversity in that Fuel the Future will help support scholarships for students from underrepresented backgrounds and presented an overview of the UH Law Center’s DEI Pipeline Program.

“We want to fuel the future because what law schools, and education in general, do is provide this powerful mechanism for social advancement and civic engagement,” he said. “We want to make sure our law school rides the demographic wave so we can provide affordable law school education to well credentialed students of all backgrounds.”

Thomas Hetherington, a 1998 graduate of the UH Law Center and UHLC Foundation President, has given $250,000 to jumpstart the initiative. During the event, he spoke about his enthusiasm for the school and his experience with providing scholarships to students. He said the most meaningful philanthropic work he has done is supporting scholarship programs for the Law Center.

“It’s compelling to read the stories of these law students,” he said. “I would encourage alumni and friends to think about what’s meaningful to you.”

The next donor speaker was Bill Finnegan, a 1981 UH Law Center graduate and Latham & Watkins Representative, who shared that he and his wife lost their son Nick due to a car accident 17 years ago and decided to start a scholarship at their son’s school in his memory.

“You get as much as you give,” he said. “When you see the impact you have, you too will be very happy that you were part of it.”

Finnegan said he approached his firm about a match program for the new building efforts, but the more the firm started looking at the school, they became interested in their scholarships and diversity. This further demonstrated the importance of having scholarships available.

The final donor to speak was Rosland McLeod, a 1996 UHLC graduate who currently practices in Denver as Senior Vice President and Chief Legal Officer and Corporate Secretary at SCL Health. A scholarship recipient herself, she said the most gratifying part of giving financially and supporting scholarships is hearing about the direct impact on students. She also said they are key to increasing a diverse student population and inspiring students through representation.

“My life would not be where it is and as successful as it has been if I had not gone to the UH Law Center,” she said. “It doesn’t have to be millions to make a difference.”

After the donors spoke, Brehon and Joseph Holloway, a third-year law student, discussed how scholarships paved the way for success as students. Dean Baynes then provided closing remarks and thanks to those who attended.

“Your participation shows where your heart is,” Dean Baynes said. “The power is in your hands.”

To learn more about Fuel the Future and how you can make an impact, please visit www.law.uh.edu/giving/fuel-the-future.asp.

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