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Published May 18, 2022
Jessie Salas and Cristina Salazar are the recipients of Brimmer Scholars awards -- the University of Wyoming College of Law’s most prestigious scholarship -- for the 2022-23 academic year.
Established in 2011, the Brimmer Scholarship honors the career and service of Clarence Brimmer, a former U.S. District Court judge for Wyoming. The Brimmer Scholarship ensures that Brimmer’s legacy serves as an inspiration to new generations of legal professionals.
Brimmer practiced law in Rawlins before serving as Wyoming attorney general from 1971-74 and U.S. attorney for the District of Wyoming in 1975. President Gerald Ford appointed Brimmer to the U.S. District Court for the District of Wyoming in 1975. He served as chief judge from 1986-1992 and stepped into senior status in 2006. He continued serving until his death in 2014.
Brimmer Scholars are committed to excellence and service throughout their legal educations and careers.
Salas, of Pueblo, Colo., received her Bachelor of Music from Colorado State University (CSU) and a Master of Music in cello performance from UW. Her legal and musical worlds will converge in a cello performance at the Yellowstone National Park’s 150th anniversary symposium in Cody May 19. The UW College of Law and the UW Haub School of Environment and Natural Resources are the organizers of the event.
Playing cello was an unusual path for a 12-year-old girl from a Hispanic neighborhood in Pueblo. Salas credits the support of her grandparents for her education. Salas recounts a “rude awakening” during her first semester at CSU when she realized how far behind other students she was in both music and general classes.
“At first, I turned inward. I avoided making friends, my grades slipped, and I considered dropping out altogether,” she says. “Then came my second rude awakening: I would either fail or take charge of my success.”
Salas is a member of the American Bar Association Young Lawyers Division and vice president and founding member of the Wyoming Sports and Entertainment Law Club. In 2021, she served as a summer law clerk for Strive Health in Denver.
In June, Salas will join a group of 10 summer associates at Sherman & Howard LLC, a Denver-based firm serving national clients from nine offices in Arizona, Colorado, Nevada and New Mexico.
Salas credits previous Brimmer Scholar Celyn Whitt, of Burlington, Colo., as her mentor.
“I have taken what she taught me and the skills I have honed the past two years and tried to pass them on to incoming first-year students,” she says. “Being a mentor for younger law students has been fulfilling.”
Salazar, from Centennial, Colo., says, even as a Division I athlete and a member of the soccer team that won UW’s first soccer conference championship in 2018, her goal was always to attend law school.
“I come from a family where none of my grandparents graduated high school and neither of my parents went to college,” she says. “As a first-generation Mexican American woman, I understand the weight of ‘for our people.’ It means to strive for all of the people who have never had a seat at the table.”
In her first year in the UW College of Law, Salazar served as the representative to the American Inns of Court, an association of lawyers, judges and other legal professionals dedicated to serving the law and seeking justice.
Salazar also worked as a research assistant at the George W. Hopper Law Library at the UW College of Law and as an extern for Judge Tori Kricken of Albany County District Court. She has held leadership roles with Phi Alpha Delta Law Fraternity and OutLaw, the student organization for LGBTQ awareness and advocacy. Salazar will work as a summer associate at the Denver office of global law firm Holland & Knight LLP.
“I am honored to be selected as a Brimmer Scholar,” she says. “I could not have accomplished this without the love and support of my family and friends.”
Salazar, a member of the Student Ambassadors Program, has moved into a role where she “can now provide support and community to diverse students.”
In October 2021, Salazar and Salas were the winning team at UW’s College of Law Richard E. Day Client Counseling Competition. In February, they represented UW in the American Bar Association’s regional competition, where they placed third. Next year, both will serve on the editorial board of the Wyoming Law Review, with Salas as a research editor and Salazar as an article editor.
In addition to Salas and Salazar, scholarship finalists were Hope Bringhurst, of Hurricane, Utah; Hannah Mink, from Durango, Colo; Jenna VonHofe, of Fulshear, Texas; and Austin Waisanen, from Deadwood, S.D. The Brimmer Scholarship selection committee included representatives of the UW College of Law, the judiciary sector, the Wyoming Bar Association and members of the Brimmer family.