The Utah Center for Legal Inclusion is pleased to announce this year’s recipients for the Bar Review Diversity and Inclusion Scholarship.
Congratulations to the seven recipients of UCLI’s 2023 Bar Review Diversity and Inclusion Scholarship: Jessica Arthurs, Esther Johnson, Nicole Johnston, Emelie Klott, Nanette Pawelek, Joseph Rivera-Delavega, and Debbie Vargas.
Jessica graduates from the S.J. Quinney College of Law with her Juris Doctor and a certificate in International Law. She is a native Utahn and earned her undergraduate from the University of Utah in Middle Eastern Studies. She served as this year’s President of the Student Bar Association and has served on the Public Interest Law Organization’s leadership team. She has worked for the Pro Bono Initiative as Street Law Director and is this year’s Rocky Rognlie Fellow for the Pro Bono Initiative. She is passionate about making legal services more accessible to her community here and abroad.
Esther Johnson is a recent graduate of the University of Utah S. J. Quinney College of Law and has a BA in Spanish from Brigham Young University. Esther is passionate about helping immigrants and refugees as well as increasing access to justice for marginalized groups. During law school, Esther worked with Catholic Community Services and Utah Legal Services as well as several private immigration firms. She has also participated in experiential law classes centered on regulatory reform of the legal profession as an avenue for increasing access to legal services. Esther speaks Spanish and Portuguese and loves Latin American poetry. In her free time, Esther enjoys hiking, snowboarding, and mountain biking.
Nicole Johnston recently graduated from the University of Utah S.J. Quinney College of Law with her juris doctorate. Prior to law school, Nicole completed a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science and Socio-Legal Studies at the University of Denver and a Master’s in Education at Canisius College in Buffalo, NY. During her time as a law student, Nicole served as the Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Chair for the Student Bar Association and the Development Director for the Women’s+ Law Caucus. Nicole also externed with the ACLU of Utah and the U.S. District Court for the District of Utah. In her work, Nicole has sought to make the Utah legal community a more inclusive space and improve access to justice. Nicole looks forward to continuing this work after the Bar and finding opportunities to learn and grow in the legal profession.
Emelie Klott is a current third year law student at the University of Utah S.J. Quinney College of Law. Throughout law school, Emelie has been involved in the Pro Bono Initiative where she served as a volunteer and worked as a Student Director and Fellow for the Family Law Site. With the Pro Bono Initiative, she has been able to help provide legal advice to low-income individuals throughout the state of Utah. Emelie has also gained invaluable legal experience through her work in criminal defense at Salt Lake Legal Defenders Association, as an extern in juvenile defense, and in family law. After law school, Emelie is excited to join Utah’s wonderful legal community and to continue her work in family law at Cordell & Cordell where she will work to ensure fair treatment for fathers in custody cases.
Nanette Pawelek is a current 3L at the University of Utah set to graduate in May 2023. She is a first-generation female law student and had a career as a university lecturer before changing course to law. She is passionate about public service and mentorship, as evidenced by recent work with displaced Ukrainians and years of teaching U.S. military members overseas in Kosovo, Iraq, Afghanistan, Kuwait, Japan, and Germany.
Throughout law school, Nanette mentored prospective and incoming first-year law students and has been involved in notable school organizations, including the Women’s Law Caucus, Students for Ukraine, and the Pro Bono Initiative. She organized clothing drives, fundraised for supplies, and helped collect roughly 30 duffel bags full of medical supplies that she and a few other law students took to Ukraine in May 2022. She also volunteered at a refugee center in Poland and a supply tent for women and children on the Polish/Ukrainian border.
During her 3L year, Nanette participated in the University of Utah’s Refugee Law Clinic, helping Ukrainians apply for asylum in Utah. The asylum work led to leading a virtual legal English-speaking club for Ukrainian attorneys hoping to expand their employment opportunities. In addition, Nanette externed at the Legal Defenders Association (LDA), working with indigent clients who she says, “need and deserve strong and compassionate advocates.” She looks forward to learning more and plans to work in criminal defense after she graduates from law school.
Joseph Rivera de la Vega
Joseph Rivera is a first generation law school graduate. As a 22 year old lawyer, Joseph’s main goal is to help advocate for Criminal Justice reform, comprehensive immigration reform, and to make a run for Salt Lake City Mayor by 2026. Joseph was a part of UCLI’s first interns in 2019 and is committed to furthering diversity throughout the legal system by supporting UCLI.
Debbie Vargas just completed her third year of law school at the S.J. Quinney College of Law. She did her undergraduate degree at the University of Utah and double majored in Honors Psychology and Criminology, and also obtained a minor in Sociology. She has always been passionate about criminal law and is currently working at the Salt Lake County District Attorney’s Office.
UCLI would like to thank the generous sponsors and partners who have made these scholarships possible: