RaShya Cunningham (’13) Wins 2011 Fredrikson and Byron Minority Scholarship
JUNE 23, 2011—RaShya Cunningham (’13) has been selected to receive the Fredrikson & Byron Foundation Minority Scholarship for 2011. The $10,000 award is sponsored jointly by the Foundation and the law firm of the same name.
Open to currently enrolled 1Ls who meet the minority classification requirements, the scholarship application requires the usual transcripts, resume, recommendations, and writing sample. One additional requirement, written answers to various essay questions on the legal profession, was what drew Cunningham to apply.
"The essay questions allowed me to explore the current state of diversity issues, and that’s something that I am extremely interested in," Cunningham says. She wrote on the dichotomy between acceptance and tolerance, between looking diverse and being diverse, and on the impact of that dichotomy on the legal profession, especially large firms.
"I was honored to be selected for the award primarily because my answers were very honest," Cunningham says. "I didn’t say what I thought was appropriate or what I believed the firm wanted to hear, and being selected on those terms said a great deal about the firm to me."
As a 1L, Cunningham was assistant secretary for the Black Law Students Association and chaired its Black History Month Program, which gave her context for her scholarship essay answers. "I wanted the program to explore the uncomfortable parts of race that are hard to discuss," she says.
This summer she is taking an evidence course at the Law School and working as a research assistant for Professor Edward Adams and as a law clerk at Genesis II for Families.
The Fredrikson & Byron Foundation Minority Scholarship Program aims to increase diversity in law firms and enhance minority law students’ awareness of opportunities for the private practice of law in the Upper Midwest. The international firm of Fredrikson & Byron advises businesses on legal issues, and the Foundation seeks to support the philanthropic efforts and community volunteer work of the firm’s attorneys.