The Diversity Scholarship Foundation presented Ayah Sarsour, a third-year student at Notre Dame Law School, with the Public Interest Advocate Scholarship Award on December 3 at the 2019 Unity Award Dinner at the Hilton Chicago.
The scholarship is awarded to law students interested in pursuing a career in public service or a student who is actively involved with a nonprofit agency that represents the needy and underprivileged.
"I want to thank the committee for selecting me as a recipient of this award," Sarsour said. "I am excited to continue fighting for the rights and liberties of all people, especially those in need. I also want to thank Notre Dame Law School for supporting me on my path to becoming a different kind of lawyer, a lawyer committed to pursuing justice wherever her life may take her. "
Sarsour is committed to advocating for communities of color and the indigent. Prior to law school, Sarsour was a middle school teacher in the Milwaukee public school system. Throughout law school, she has pursued experiences in public defense. She is currently serving as a certified federal law clerk for the Federal Community Defenders in the Northern District of Indiana. She has also served as a felony panel law clerk for the Orange County Public Defender and as a certified legal intern for the Public Defender in South Bend.
She recently completed Notre Dame’s “Inside-Out” course through Notre Dame’s Center for Social Concerns, which brings students together from both sides of the prison wall to explore issues including why people commit crime and what prisons are for.
"Ayah is going to go far in public interest and the legal profession is better off for having her in it. Anyone who interacts with her agrees that she is the real deal,” said Katelynn McBride Barbosa, program director for Public Interest and Chicago Initiatives in Notre Dame Law School's Career Development Office.
Beyond public defense, Sarsour has externed for judges advancing the public interest, including the Hon. John Carr, associate judge for the Circuit Court of Cook County, Domestic Relations Division, and for the Hon. Marguerite Quinn, circuit judge for the Circuit Court of Cook County, Law Division, Trial Section. Sarsour has also worked as a certified medical prosecutions law clerk for the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation.
At Notre Dame Law School, Sarsour is on the Moot Court Trial Team and served as a representative for the Public Interest Law Forum.
Sarsour is the third Notre Dame Law student to receive a Diversity Scholarship Foundation award. Katelyn Ringrose, ’19 J.D. received an award in 2018 and Veronica Canton '18 J.D. received an award in 2017.
There were more than 60 applications for Diversity Scholarship Foundation awards. The foundation awarded 15 scholarships to diverse students.
The Diversity Scholarship Foundation was established by a group of attorneys and judges committed to the ideal that diverse law school student bodies are a means of ensuring further diversification in the legal community. The foundation is a not-for-profit organization that provides scholarships to diverse and deserving law students. The foundation also provides free continuing legal education seminars (CLEs) on a wide range of topics, including the Illinois Cannabis Control Act and diversity and inclusion in the legal profession. The scholarships are given to students in Wisconsin, Illinois, and Indiana.