When the Notre Dame Law School Alumni Relations Office wanted to put a greater focus on connecting alumni with current students, Claudia Tran, 2L, stepped up to make it happen.
“Claudia’s leadership and dedication to this program resulted in networking events occurring in 19 cities over the Christmas break,” said Tammye Raster, law alumni program manager for NDLS. “She is incredibly smart, organized, [and] diligent, and exerts a level of energy that’s amazing.
“She’s the energizer bunny.”
From organizing a student talent show to facilitating social events for students and alumni, Tran makes things happen.
“Her work ethic is unbelievable,” Raster said. “I would hire her to do anything.”
Tran’s drive to help others started well before she arrived in South Bend. As an undergraduate student at the University of Missouri-Columbia, she said it was a documentary that questioned the strength of America’s public education system that sparked her interest in pursuing a law degree.
“I thought that if I really wanted to be in a position to make a significant change in the world, then I had to go to law school,” Tran said. “I came to law school because I thought I wanted to fix the education gap with my law degree but I’ve thought about exploring a bunch of things.”
Although the idea of her newfound career path happened in an instant, Tran’s decision to attend Notre Dame Law School didn’t come as quickly. The Leawood, Kan. native and self-proclaimed Kansas City sports fanatic made the transition to student leader quickly.
She’s joined a number of student activities and gained exposure to many legal career opportunities. She’s a staff writer for the NDLS Journal of Legislation, executive board member of the Sports, Communication, and Entertainment Law Forum and videographer for the Galilee Program, a public-interest and public- service immersion program for first-year law students. This past summer she interned in the athletics department at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and general counsel’s office with Sporting Kansas City.
During Tran’s first year of law school she traveled to Dallas through the Galilee program and visited the city’s Catholic Charities affiliate. While shadowing local attorneys she found yet another area of the law that piqued her interest.
“I got to spend some time with a lawyer working for Catholic Charities who provided legal assistance to immigrants living in north Texas and I realized just how little I knew about the immigration law process,” she said. “After that experience, I called my parents and, for the first time, actually learned about how they came to America from Vietnam and got their citizenship. It made me really want to figure out how I can fit in pro-bono work after I graduate.”
Tran’s willingness to help others plays out in the projects she takes on. During the spring semester Tran took on a leadership role in the planning and execution of the Law School’s annual Father Mike Variety Show. The event, which memorializes a NDLS assistant dean who passed away from cancer in 1987, raises funds that go toward summer stipends for students doing public interest work.
“We had panic before the show,” said Tim Dondanville, 3L and SBA president. “The projectors stopped working. Claudia immediately took action working with the technical staff to get the situation fixed. She also made adjustments to the show’s lineup to buy us some time. She really just kept everyone calm.
“It’s been really fun working with Claudia. She is the type of person who knows everyone; not just to say hello . . . but on a deeper level. She really cares about people.”
This summer Tran will work as a summer associate with the Martin Pringle Law Firm back in her hometown. While she can’t shake the need to be front and center cheering on the Kansas City Royals at hopefully their next World Series, she’s added another great sports club to her list of favorites, the Fighting Irish.
“You always hear about the generosity and the kindness of Notre Dame alumni, but you never really know it for yourself until it changes your life,” said Tran. “I’m excited to carry on that legacy after I graduate.”