The University of Texas at Austin   School of Law

Main menu:

April 21, 2008

Graduating law students receive University Co-op Public Interest Awards

Photo of Co-op Public Interest Award winners
Jane Castro, Paul Di Blasi, Matt Pizzo, Kate Lincoln-Goldfinch, Amber VanSchuyver and Rachel Lopez

Six students at The University of Texas School of Law have been awarded University Co-op Public Interest Awards in honor of their extraordinary commitment to public service.

This annual award honors graduating law students for work in non-profit, government, or legislative sectors and for pro bono legal and other volunteer activities. Each student will receive a $4,500 award made possible by a grant from the University Co-op. The program is administered by the William Wayne Justice Center for Public Interest Law at the Law School.

The students will also be recognized at the University Co-op Awards for Excellence in Graduate Education banquet on Wednesday, May 14, 2008.

“We are delighted to honor these outstanding graduating students. They are dedicated to the highest callings of our profession—serving the public and increasing access to justice,” said Professor Eden Harrington, director of the Justice Center. “We commend them for their leadership in public service and are pleased to recognize their many contributions to the Law School and the community.”

The following students have received University Co-op Public Interest Awards for 2008:


Jane Castro Jane Castro

Jane Castro has participated in the Environmental Clinic, the Immigration Clinic, and the Housing Clinic, and has served as co-chair of the Human Rights Law Society and senior editor of the Texas International Law Journal. During the summers, she interned for the Brazilian Ministry of the Environment and Texas RioGrande Legal Aid, with the support of a University Co-op Public Interest Summer Fellowship. Castro, a magna cum laude graduate of Middlebury College, will graduate in May with a dual degree from the Law School and the Teresa Lozano Long Institute of Latin American Studies. She will clerk for federal Magistrate Judge William Lynn in New Mexico, and plans to work as a legal aid attorney in Texas after her clerkship.

Paul Di Blasi Paul Di Blasi

Paul Di Blasi has participated in the National Security and Human Rights Clinic, the Transnational Workers Rights Clinic, and the Housing Clinic, and has served as co-chair of the Human Rights Law Society and as a board member of Texas Law Fellowships. As a Public Service Scholar with the Justice Center, he helped lead a winter break pro bono trip to the Mississippi coast. In the summers, he worked for the Texas Civil Rights Project in San Juan, Texas, and the Public Justice Center in Washington, D.C., with the support of a University Co-op Public Interest Summer Fellowship. Di Blasi attended Williams College, where he was a Mellon Undergraduate Fellow. He has accepted a position with Texas RioGrande Legal Aid.

Kate Lincoln-Goldfinch Kate Lincoln-Goldfinch

Kate Lincoln-Goldfinch has participated in the Immigration Clinic, the Texas Journal on Civil Liberties and Civil Rights, and the Women’s Law Caucus; interned for State Representative Juan Garcia; and has served as a Public Service Scholar with the Justice Center. In the summers, she clerked for the Texas Advocacy Project, assisting victims of domestic violence and sexual assault, and the Political Asylum Project of Austin (PAPA), with the support of a University Co-op Public Interest Summer Fellowship. Lincoln-Goldfinch, a graduate of UT Austin, has been awarded a prestigious two-year Equal Justice Works Fellowship that will fund her work for PAPA, where she will provide legal representation and education to immigrant detainees at the Hutto Detention Center.

Rachel Lopez Rachel Lopez

Rachel Lopez has participated in the National Security and Human Rights Clinic and the Capital Punishment Clinic, has been active in the Human Rights Law Society, and served as a Rapoport Center Human Rights Scholar, helping to coordinate a fact-finding mission to Colombia. In the summers, she interned with the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights and the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda. Lopez attended Northwestern University as an undergraduate and is currently enrolled at the Universite Paris 1, Pantheon-Sorbonne, where she will receive an LL.M. in French and European Law in June. She plans to work for a human rights organization and ultimately hopes to become a clinical law professor.

Matthew Pizzo Matthew Pizzo

Matthew Pizzo’s Immigration Clinic work representing immigrant detainees featured prominently in a recent story on the Hutto Detention Center in The New Yorkermagazine. In the summers, he has worked as a consular section intern with the U.S. Department of State in Naples, Italy, and clerked for Texas RioGrande Legal Aid in Austin and the Political Asylum Project of Austin. A Phi Beta Kappa graduate of UT Austin and a dual degree student at the LBJ School of Public Affairs, Pizzo has been accepted to the U.S. Department of Justice Honors Program and will clerk for an immigration court in Harlingen, Texas. Following the clerkship, he will pursue a career in immigration law, either within the federal government or with a nonprofit organization.

Amber VanSchuyer Amber VanSchuyer

Amber VanSchuyer has participated in the Transnational Worker Rights Clinic, the Immigration Clinic, and the Access to Justice Internship; has been co-president of the Public Interest Law Association and managing editor of the Texas Journal on Civil Rights and Civil Liberties; and served as a student representative on the Dean’s Loan Repayment Assistance Program committee. In the summers, she worked for Texas RioGrande Legal Aid in Edinburg, Texas and Equal Rights Advocates in San Francisco, with the support of a University Co-op Public Interest Summer Fellowship. Van Schuyver graduated with distinction and departmental honors from the University of Kansas, and is the Law School’s first graduating Equal Justice Scholar. She has been awarded a prestigious two-year Equal Justice Works Fellowship to fund her work at TRLA in Edinburg, where she will help domestic violence victims establish a co-operative business enterprise.

About the University Co-op:

The University Co-op is a not-for-profit corporation owned by the students, faculty and staff of The University of Texas at Austin. Since 2000, the Co-op has given over thirty million dollars to UT in the form of gifts, grants, rebates, and royalties.

Related links:

University Co-op

University Co-op Public Interest Awards for Graduating Law Students

William Wayne Justice Center for Public Interest Law

Program contact:

Eden Harrington, Director of the William Wayne Justice Center for Public Interest Law, UT Law, 512-232-7068, eharrington@law.utexas.edu

Media contact:

Kirston Fortune, Assistant Dean for Communications, (512) 471.7330 or kfortune@law.utexas.edu.