Donalee Donaldson 12L

Undergraduate institution: Seton Hall University (New Jersey)
Major: English Honors, Social & Behavioral Sciences

Why did you decide to apply for a Woodruff Fellowship?

The cost of legal education was a really important factor in my decision of which law schools to apply to, and ultimately attend. I applied for the fellowship because I was really drawn to Emory but was concerned about the cost of attending. I figured I would be working in public interest after graduation so minimizing debt was important to me.

Was it a factor in you choosing Emory Law for your legal education?

Absolutely. I was already very interested in attending Emory based on my impression of the school during the application process and the wonderful experience I had when I visited for the Woodruff finalistsí weekend. Receiving the fellowship confirmed that attending Emory would be the right decision for me.

What does being a Woodruff Scholar mean to you?

Being a Woodruff Scholar means being a part of community of great legal minds. Itís a wonderful sign of the faith that Emory has in me and my academic abilities. It has also given me more of a voice on campus, by allowing me to get involved in recruitment, alumni relations and other activities that improve student life.

How has being a Woodruff Scholar shaped your law school career? Your professional career?

The Woodruff Fellowship gave me an extra boost of confidence as an entering first year that I wouldnít have had otherwise. Many law students and attorneys describe the first year as a time when they realized how little they knew and how little their previous academic successes had to do with their success as lawyers. The fact that a group of distinguished Emory alumni and faculty selected me to be the recipient of the schoolís most prestigious scholarship was a greatly appreciated vote of confidence in my potential to succeed as a student and an attorney. The Woodruff Fellowship is a credential that stands out on my resume and has been a great talking point with interviewers. Iíve also made great connections with previous recipients of the award, which has been useful in my professional development.

What all went in to the application process for becoming a Woodruff Scholar? How hard was the process?

The process was relatively simple. The only extra requirement is an extra recommendation for the fellowship. I would suggest that applicants use a recommender who can speak with great detail about their ability to succeed in the profession as well as their character.

The interview process was intimidating, as one would expect when spending a weekend with other finalists who are all spectacular. However it was also a great time to make friends and get acquainted with faculty and Atlanta lawyers. I think the fact that several finalists who did not receive the Fellowship opt to attend Emory anyway speaks volumes about the community we have here.