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Alumni Awards of Distinction

Social Justice Scholars Alumni Award

This award is sponsored by the Social Justice Mission Scholars at Vermont Law School.

This award is sponsored by the Social Justice Scholars at Vermont Law School. The Scholars are a select group of VLS students chosen through a competitive application process based on their demonstrated commitment to creating a more just society. They carry forward Vermont Law School’s tradition of leadership on social justice issues. To this end, they created the award to honor a Vermont Law School alumnus/a who has demonstrated a deep and abiding commitment to causes of social justice.

Award Criteria

  1. Must be a Vermont Law School alumnus/a. All alumni are eligible.
  2. Must demonstrate tireless commitment and achievement of meaningful impacts in the promotion of a just society. Examples of this commitment include:
    1. Challenging injustice and valuing diversity
    2. Championing the concept that everyone has the inalienable right to be treated equally under the law, regardless of race, gender, religion, age sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, disability, family status, or incarceration
    3. Defending the dignity and justice of all animals
    4. Organizing community initiatives related to social justice
    5. Working for greater access to justice and law reform.
  3. Must have a demonstrated interest in mentoring law students or graduates interested in advancing social justice.

Nomination Guidelines

  1. Alumni who have been nominated previously may be re-nominated during any cycle with no restrictions.
  2. Nominations are due by the end of the day on March 17, 2017.
  3. Nominations must be sent by email to
  4. Nominations must include the following:
      • Nominating statement in Microsoft Word (or PDF) of no more than three double-spaced pages in length, including:
        • Name of nominee
        • Current job title and location of nominee
        • Year of graduation from VLS of nominee (if known)
        • Explanation of how the nominee meets the criteria for this award
        • Details on relationship between nominee and nominator.
      • Resume/CV of nominee.
      • Letters from others in support of the nomination can be included but are not required.

Award Selection Process

  1. VLS Social Justice Scholars and Faculty Advisors will review all nominations and select the award winner based on fit of submission to award criteria.
  2. The award winner and nominator will be notified by the Social Justice Scholars' chair or faculty advisor by email by April 1. Details on the award reception during the Homecoming Weekend will be provided.
  3. The Social Justice Scholars' chair or faculty advisor will notify all nominees of their nomination and invite them to attend the homecoming event following the selection of the award winner.
  4. The award will be presented at a reception during Homecoming Weekend (June 23-24, 2017).
  5. The award winner is expected to attend the reception and provide a brief acknowledgement speech.
  6. All nominees are encouraged to attend the award reception.
  7. The award winner (and all nominees) are encouraged to network with VLS Social Justice Scholars during Homecoming Weekend to discuss ways to advance social justice and mentor students interested in same.

For any questions regarding this award or the nomination process, please contact

Rebecca Watson O'Connor JD'00

Rebecca Watson O'Connor 2The Social Justice Mission Scholars at Vermont Law School announced Rebecca (Becca) Watson O'Connor JD'00 as the first recipient of the Social Justice Scholars Alumni Award in 2016. 

Becca exemplifies the type of long-term commitment to social justice the Social Justice Mission Scholars seek to recognize with this award. She is currently the Vice President of Public Policy for the Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network (RAINN), the nation's largest anti-sexual assault organization. She works with lawmakers to shape legislation protecting victims' rights, and is quoted frequently in national news outlets on the subject of victims' rights. Becca has held this position for the last three years, but her advocacy for social justice goes well beyond that. She worked for five years in the State of Massachusetts Office for Victim Assistance (2003-08), and was the Policy Director for the D.C. Coalition Against Domestic Violence for two years before assuming her current position.

The Social Justice Mission Scholars received many nominations, and agreed that all are worthy of the award. The selection process affirmed the fact that VLS graduates are working hard for social justice around the world; the Social Justice Mission Scholars are proud to be joining this admirable tradition.

Becca was honored at an award ceremony at Vermont Law School on June 17, 2016 during Homecoming Weekend, June 17-18, 2016.

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