Dr. Sadie T.M. Alexander Scholarship
Dr. Sadie Tanner Mossell Alexander was a trailblazer whose achievements broke down numerous barriers. Dr. Alexander was one of the first Black women in America to earn a PhD, and she was the first Black woman to graduate from the University of Pennsylvania Law School. Throughout her education, Dr. Alexander encountered many challenges. She demonstrated extraordinary resilience and went on to become the first Black woman admitted to the Pennsylvania Bar. Her career as an impactful lawyer and civil rights activist spanned five decades and included numerous distinctions. She was the first Black woman appointed to serve as Assistant City Solicitor in Philadelphia in 1928, and eventually she headed the city’s Commission on Human Rights. Dr. Alexander also served on President Harry S. Truman’s Committee on Civil Rights and was the chairwoman of the White House Conference on Aging in 1981 under President Jimmy Carter. Over 30 years since her passing, the work and legacy of Dr. Sadie T.M. Alexander are more important than ever.
For this reason, the Dr. Sadie T.M. Alexander Scholarship, created in February 2021, remains vital to the Law School’s commitment to continuing to build a more inclusive educational environment, while working to dismantle the legacy of racial and economic injustice in this country. The Dr. Sadie T.M. Alexander Scholarship aims to support students who demonstrate, through lived, academic, and work experience, the defining qualities of Dr. Alexander: resilience, leadership, a pathbreaking spirit, and a commitment to cross-disciplinary excellence. Dr. Alexander fought racism and sexism to pave the way for future generations, while affecting far-reaching changes in both the public and private sectors across academia, economics, and civil rights. Her achievements in the fields of economics and law informed her enduring focus on advancing racial and economic justice. Dr. Alexander was a leader, devoted to civic engagement and the pursuit of excellence in everything she did.
Five Scholars will receive full tuition scholarships for all three years of law school. Scholars are expected to remain enrolled at Penn Carey Law, and to stay in good academic standing during their academic careers. In selecting Scholars, the Selection Committee seeks individuals who will excel in Penn Carey Law’s collaborative and supportive environment and who have demonstrated their own resilience, leadership, pathbreaking spirit, and/or dedication to cross-disciplinary excellence. The Selection Committee seeks a range of applicants who aspire to groundbreaking work with no limitations and who will, like Dr. Alexander, infuse the pursuit of racial and economic justice into their professional endeavors. There is no requirement that Scholars commit to a particular professional path upon graduation. All are welcome to apply.
“These scholarships will be awarded to incoming students whose education, experience, and professional commitments advance racial justice and honor the extraordinary work and legacy of Dr. Alexander,” said former Dean Ted Ruger in a statement announcing the scholarships in 2020. “They’re one part of a much larger strategy to ensure that our students have the support to advance equity and justice through their personal and professional endeavors, as Dr. Alexander did.”
“We are grateful to our Black Law Students Association for suggesting that we create scholarships honoring the legacy of Dr. Sadie T.M. Alexander,” said Arlene Rivera Finkelstein, Chief Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Officer. “We know what an inspiration Dr. Alexander is for students, and for us all. It feels particularly appropriate to honor her memory with scholarships that recognize the excellence of our applicants and reduce financial barriers to law school.”
“BLSA advocated for this scholarship because Penn Law should join us in celebrating Dr. Alexander in a lasting and meaningful way,” said Jocelyn A.K. Walcott L’22. “Her life exemplified interdisciplinary, intellectual curiosity and a deep commitment to public service. Dr. Alexander was a true embodiment of Penn Law’s values. With the Dr. Sadie T.M. Alexander scholarship, Penn Law honors her legacy and recognizes that a Black woman set an exemplary standard that people from all backgrounds should aspire to reach.”
Selected works about Dr. Sadie T.M. Alexander
Selected works by Dr. Sadie T.M. Alexander
Law School Scholarship Opportunities
The Law School offers numerous additional scholarship opportunities. For details, visit Financing Your Education.
There are many external and private scholarships available for law students with historically underrepresented personal and professional experiences and interests. For additional financial aid opportunities, visit AccessLex Institute’s Law School Scholarship Databank.