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Meet the Class of 2015

August 30, 2012

Of the 243 members of the University of Pennsylvania Law School Class of 2015 only one can run a marathon in less than three hours, but the unique interests and abilities of each student comprise an incoming class as multitalented as it is diverse, in every conceivable way.

First-year JD students arrived on campus for orientation this week, adding to the depth of the Law School’s existing diversity. They traveled from 37 states and the District of Columbia, and came from countries around the world, including Brazil, Canada, China, Colombia, India, South Korea, and Singapore.

“Penn Law has one of the most diverse and collaborative learning environments of any top law school,” said Renee C. Post, Associate Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid. “Our students come from a wide range of academic, professional and ideological backgrounds. They are not only academically gifted, but professionally accomplished, intellectually curious, and diverse by every measure.”

More than a third of the new students (35 percent) identify as people of color, and 44 percent are women. They range in age from 20 to 38, with the average age being 24. Several are first-generation Americans, and some are the first members of their families to attend college and go to law school.

Measured by what they already have accomplished, this next generation of lawyers are global citizens, committed as well to improving their local communities.

They include a case manager for homeless women with HIV, the founder of an organization that loans baby equipment and provides formula to needy families, a program advocate for an NGO working to stop violence against women in Malaysia, a grassroots activist fighting for environmental sustainability, and a volunteer for a refugee resettlement agency. One is the music director for a church with a congregation of 4,000; another designed an apple harvesting device that improved worker safety.

The class includes a police officer, a fire fighter, an Army Special Forces medical sergeant and several teachers, some of whom have taught overseas as Fulbright scholars.

Among the many items on the students’ resumes is work for the government (including the U.S. Department of Energy, U.S. Department of Justice, and the CIA), advocacy organizations (such as the ACLU), and large corporations (such as NBC). Their private-sector experience includes work as accountants, private equity analysts, journalists, engineers, entrepreneurs, and in real estate.

They are intellectually adventurous. The 8 percent who have previously attended graduate school have advanced degrees in American Studies, Business Administration, Communications, Education, Health Administration, International Relations, Music, Philosophy, Political Science, Public Policy, Sociology, Theology, and other disciplines.

Along with these many accomplishments, they bring to the Law School great artistic ability. Many play instruments (violin being the most common). There are numerous dancers and choreographers, members of improv comedy troupes, and several DJs. The Class of 2015 includes professional musicians and composers, actors on stage and television, screenwriters, filmmakers, editors, and bloggers. Finally, among their number are an orchestra and opera conductor, a cartoonist, and a slam poet.