Making a Difference

Sharon Wegner, AS'06

First-year Law student receives scholarship for her past commitment and future plan for serving others

Teaching English to immigrants in Iowa. Coordinating a holiday donation drive in Orange County, CA. Educating rural South Africans about diseases such as HIV/AIDS while learning Zulu. These three experiences have driven Sharon Wegner, AS’06, a first-year law student, to pursue a career in public service. But as a student with limited means — at one point earning just $3,000 over a two-year period to follow her dream of helping others — law school seemed out of reach for the former AmeriCorps VISTA and Peace Corps volunteer.

Deciding that she would likely make the biggest difference for at-risk communities and individuals by developing and influencing public policy, Wegner took the LSAT exam while still a Peace Corps volunteer in South Africa. She applied to a number of law schools hoping to be accepted by at least one where she could set the tone for her career while not plunging deep into debt.

Drake Law School responded on both fronts: In addition to an offer of admission, the scholarship committee awarded her a full-tuition scholarship through the Public Service Scholarship Program based on her extraordinary history of public service work. In exchange for the scholarship, Wegner agreed to work in a public interest job after graduation for at least one year for each year of scholarship assistance. The program also requires her to meet certain public service requirements during her time at Drake, which Wegner admits she would have done regardless of the scholarship.

The scholarship program is an example of Drake Law School’s commitment to educating future public servants. The school encourages its students to take an active role in providing public service as an important component of their legal education. Up to ten students receive assistance through the program each year, with six receiving full tuition benefits. An additional four receive three-quarter tuition scholarships.

“I want a job where I feel good about who I am and the difference I am making,” says Wegner, who wants to keep working in a public interest job long after her commitment expires. “Acquiring six-figures of debt to get a low-paying job would not have been ideal. Receiving this scholarship was a game-changer.”

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