Root Tilden Kern Essay Contest

The first class of Root-Tilden Scholars graduated from NYU School of Law in 1954. The members of that class and subsequent classes have shown a diversity of professional interests and have become leaders in public service. A large percentage of our alumni have served in government at some point in their careers, including appointed and elected office. Some serve as federal and state court judges. Many graduates have worked with legal services, nonprofit advocacy organizations, public defenders, prosecutors’ offices, and foundations. In addition, some are employed in law school teaching or administration, or serve as partners in public interest law firms. Each year a substantial number of graduating scholars serve as clerks to federal and state judges.

Some of our notable alumni are listed below:

The Honorable Thomas Buergenthal '60
International Court of Justice

Julie Brill '85
Commissioner, Federal Trade Commission

Derwyn Bunton '98
Chief Public Defender of Orleans Parish

Diana DeGette '82
US Representative for Colorado's 1st Congressional District

The Honorable Anthony Foxx '96
US Secretary of Transportation

Keith Harper '94
Partner, Kilpatrick & Stockton

Mary Haviland '94
Commissioner, New York State Crime Victims Board

Sharon Hom '80
Executive Director, Human Rights in China

Dorchen A. Leidholdt '88
Director, Center for Battered Women's Legal Services/Sanctuary for Families

Douglas Liebhafsky '64
Special Assistant District Attorney, New York County District Attorney's Office

Nancy Lublin '01
CEO, Do Something

Nancy Mahon '89
Senior Vice President, MAC Cosmetics; Executive Director, MAC AIDS Fund

Christopher Meade '96
General Counsel of the US Department of Treasury

Tanya Southerland Narcel '00
Resident Country Director, Millennium Challenge Corporation

Dennis Riordan '74
Partner, Riordan & Horgan

Jenny Rivera '85
Associate Judge of the Court of Appeals, State of New York

Lourdes Rosado '95
Associate Director, Juvenile Law Center

Jenny R. Yang '96
Commissioner, US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission

The Root-Tilden-Kern Program is the nation’s premier public service scholarship. Established in 1951, the scholarship has an impressive history; and scholarship alumni are some of the most powerful public service attorneys at work today. The program covers full tuition, without regard to financial need, for three years of law school for outstanding students who promise to pursue public service. 

Each year 20 scholars are selected based on three criteria: commitment to public service, academic excellence, and potential for leadership. In addition to full tuition, scholars participate in a program that nurtures future public service leaders by providing unique educational, mentoring, and networking opportunities.

The program defines public service broadly: encompassing policy and legal positions with government (including judicial clerkships), non-profit organizations, academia, social entrepreneurship, community development, and law firms whose primary mission is serving the public interest.

NYU strives to ensure that the Root-Tilden-Kern Scholars are diverse in terms of race, sex, class, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, geographic origins, and ideology. We consider personal/family history of educational or socio-economic disadvantage. The program believes that diversity is critical to fostering a strong public interest profession.

Within the Root-Tilden-Kern Program, there are several named scholarships focusing on specific issues. Students receiving those scholarships participate in all Root-Tilden-Kern activities and are chosen in the same selection process: 

For more information please review the program description, how to apply, and the selection process. After reading that information, you may want to review the answers to these frequently asked questions. 

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