Victoria Kelley, a rising third-year law student at Notre Dame Law School, has been selected to receive the Peter A.R. Lardy Scholarship Award for the 2020-21 academic year.
“Victoria Kelley was one of the very first student leaders with whom I met when I became dean of Notre Dame Law School, and it was evident in that very first meeting why her peers had looked to her for leadership,” said G. Marcus Cole, the Joseph A. Matson Dean and Professor of Law at Notre Dame Law School. “She is a truly deserving recipient of this award, and she will do honor to both the Law School and the legacy of Peter A.R. Lardy.”
The Class of 1975 established the fellowship to honor their beloved classmate Peter A.R. Lardy, who died of cancer during his third year of law school. The award, which includes a substantial tuition remission for the recipient’s third year of law school, is dedicated “to those who exemplify his courage, love, and understanding toward his fellow man.” It has been awarded each year since 1976.
Kelley said receiving the award was a humbling experience “because it told me that others see me as working towards being a better person and are invested in helping me be the best I can be.”
She said she first learned about St. Francis de Sales’ advice to “be who you are and be that well” in high school and found that it has kept her grounded ever since: “In every phase in my life I try to be a better person than I was the day before.”
The student nominating letters and faculty and staff statements in support of her nomination all reflected that very characteristic as well as her warm smile, quick wit, and readiness to help others both personally and professionally.
One classmate noted, “Victoria has, time and time again, stopped everything she is doing to help me, whether that be to read a cover letter for a job or comfort me in the Commons because I was overwhelmed with my transition to law school. Victoria is selfless, kind, and committed.”
Another declared, “Victoria Kelley is truly a one-of-a-kind person. After one interaction with her, she will consider you a friend. She won’t be shy to reach out to you, crack a joke, and make you feel at home. She was a source of calm and reassurance through a stressful 1L year and never made another peer doubt themselves.”
“She is always kind and considerate to others,” confirmed Patricia McLaughlin, an assistant director in the Career Development Office. “Victoria always responds with enthusiasm when asked to help students, prospective students, and the Law School.”
Professor Stephen Smith first met Kelley when she took his first-year criminal law course. “She has impressed me not only with her obvious intelligence and maturity, but also her calm, easygoing manner,” he wrote. “For her, law school is much more than a ticket to a job or a ‘last hurrah’ before entering the workforce; she has fully immersed herself in the Notre Dame community, claiming it as her own and seeking to do her part to make it a stronger, more inclusive place of learning.”
Smith and multiple other supporters also stressed their respect for the way Kelley balanced the demands of her own academic studies, her concern for her fellow classmates, and her responsibilities as an assistant rector and president of the Notre Dame Black Law Students Association.
“Victoria has taken on the challenging aspects of her roles with an important balance of seriousness and humor,” said Professor Veronica Root Martinez. “She is professional, generous with her time and talents, pleasant and cheerful even in the face of adversity, and maintains a good humor at all times.”
In sum, Martinez said, Victoria Kelley “embodies the qualities for which this scholarship was created.”
Kelley hails from Fort Washington, Maryland. Before coming to Notre Dame, she earned her B.A. in American Studies at the University of Virginia and then served as a lead teacher for Teach for America in Tulsa, Oklahoma.