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Brimmer Scholars - Wyoming's 'Rhodes Scholarship'
The Judge Clarence A. Brimmer Scholars Program is Wyoming’s Rhodes Scholarship—one of the most competitive and prestigious offered by the Law School and the university. It rewards student excellence in legal education in the classroom and in extracurricular activities, as well as in service to the Law School, UW, and the people of Wyoming.
Brimmer Scholars receive substantial scholarship stipends—up to $10,000, the largest awarded by the College of Law—to defray the expenses of the third year of law school, and they make a commitment to service during that third year.
Students of the Law School who excel during their first two years—whether in the classroom, on the Law Review, in public service, or elsewhere—can apply during the second semester of their second year. Five students are chosen as finalists, and then the Brimmer Scholars Committee interviews the finalists and selects the winner. Members of the committee include a representative of the federal judiciary or bar, a representative of the Wyoming Supreme Court, a faculty member, the dean, a past Brimmer Scholar, and a member of the Brimmer family.
It is fitting that this award honors the long and distinguished career of Judge Clarence A. Brimmer.
U.S. District Court Judge Clarence A. Brimmer is a Wyoming native born in Rawlins in 1922. After receiving his BA in 1944, he served in the U.S. Army Air Force during World War II from 1945-46 and earned his JD in 1947 from the University of Michigan. He served as Wyoming Attorney General from 1971-74 and then as U.S. Attorney for the District of Wyoming in 1975. He was nominated by President Gerald Ford to become a U.S. District Court judge in 1975 and served as chief judge from 1986-92. In 2006, he elected to take senior status. His son Philip is now a U.S. District Judge in Colorado.
The inaugural Brimmer Scholars, chosen in 2011, are Stephanie Holguin of Riverton and Leah Schwartz of Jackson.
Holguin graduated magna cum laude in 2003 from the University of Wyoming with degrees in Criminal Justice and Sociology. Prior to coming to UW, she took courses at Central Wyoming College. Between her undergrad and law school, she worked as a child protection social worker in Arizona, and she continues to volunteer with young people who have aged out of the foster care system. She worked as a research assistant at the College of Law, volunteered her language skills in the Domestic Violence Clinic, and was the vice president of Wyoming Law Students for Equal Justice. She received her JD with honors in 2012 and now practices law with Kain & Burke, PC in Grand Junction, Colorado.
“It is a high distinction to be selected as the Judge Clarence A. Brimmer Scholar and means more than just being awarded a scholarship,” says Holquin. “It signifies the pursuit of excellence through community service, professionalism, hard work, and integrity. These are the characteristics Judge Brimmer emulates, and every law student and member of the bar should strive to exemplify. I am honored to be one of the first Brimmer Scholars. As such, I hope to inspire others and will endeavor to make positive contributions to my community, just as Judge Brimmer continues to do. I am blessed to have been a part of such an incredible program designed to honor Judge Brimmer’s amazing legacy.”
Schwartz earned her undergraduate degree in English literature at Stanford University. The legal profession is a family tradition—her parents Bill Schwartz and Cheryl Ranck Schwartz both graduated from UW College of Law and practice in Jackson. Philanthropy and service are also a family tradition—the Schwartz family has established the endowed William T. Schwartz Professor of Law at UW. Although Leah was not sure at first that she wanted to enter the family’s profession, her parents were her inspiration and she ultimately realized that she wanted to advocate on people’s behalf. She was an intern in the UW Legal Services Program and served as Legal Services Student Clinic Director. She also served as the president for the Wyoming Law Students for Equal Justice, volunteered for the Wyoming Access to Justice Commission, and submitted a case note to an edition of the Wyoming Law Review. She graduated with her JD in 2012 and now serves as term law clerk for Chief Judge Nancy Freudenthal at the U.S. District Court in Wyoming.
“I’m so grateful for the Brimmer Scholars Program,” says Schwartz. “The best part of the program to me was that it afforded an opportunity to meet Judge Brimmer. It is a huge honor to be associated with his legacy in any way. Thank you to the Brimmer family for giving back to the law school and for inspiring students like me to follow Judge Brimmer’s admirable lead—both as a lawyer and as a person.”