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Sinema encourages law alumni to contribute, mentor, advocate
Guests at the annual luncheon of the Alumni Association of the College of Law were encouraged to value their education, mentor students, push for continued diversity at Arizona’s universities and give back, to the law school and to the community.
“Over the last seven years, I’ve noticed on a daily basis how grateful I am to have received a high-quality legal education at Arizona State University,” said Kyrsten Sinema, a 2004 alumna of the College of Law and guest speaker at the Feb. 23 luncheon. “I’ve been able to understand, lobby for and talk to my colleagues about how important it is to invest in higher education.”
Sinema, a former state legislator who is running for Congress, noted that, over the past three years, lawmakers have cut funding of Arizona’s public universities by more than 50 percent. This devaluation of public education has made it more difficult for ASU to attract and retain exceptional undergraduate and graduate students who will want to stay in Arizona and work to make their communities better, she said.
“Education needs to be affordable and accessible if we want to continue to attract diverse students from all over the country and all over the world,” said Sinema, who received the 2012 Distinguished Alumni Award from the association.
She grew up poor and chose a career in social work, assisting immigrants and refugees in Phoenix, before realizing law school would give her better tools to help people whose needs were not just unmet, but unheard. She relied on academic scholarships and federal grants for low-income students to get through law school.
“These are being jeopardized by legislative action that would make it harder for low- and middle-class families to have access to public education,” she said.
Sinema praised the law school for its stellar programs in Indian law, law and science, family justice, immigration and international law, and for its pro bono work with domestic violence and other crime victims, people whose homes have been lost to foreclosure and those needing income tax preparation help, among others.
“The very best way to utilize the great skills we have is to give back to those around us,” she said.
In other luncheon business,
, Associate Dean for Academic Affairs and a Clinical Professor at the College of Law, received the 2012 Outstanding Faculty Member Award. She was introduced by Tom Williams, Chief of Staff and Assistant Dean of Operations and Information Technologies, who noted that Stinson’s mother once predicted her little girl would be a teacher or an attorney. When Stinson’s brother asked to borrow her stereo, she wrote a contract for his payment to do so, and Stinson’s mother was able to narrow her prediction.
“She is a great attorney and a great teacher,” Williams said. “What’s truly impressive to me is her dedication. Every day she makes our law school better. In a world where we all want to make a difference she’s one person I know who does.”
The association also presented two book scholarships in honor of Kevin M. Kane (Class of 1971), a founding association member, president and longtime director. The awards were made to 3L Stefanie Anderson and 1L Travis Lovett.