Valerie Weiss '16: Scholarship Award Winner
Weiss was chosen based on her powerful essay presenting improvements to the recently passed New Jersey law on cyber-bullying
Valerie Weiss ’16, will be presented with the New Jersey Women’s Law Association (NJWLA) Scholarship, an annual scholarship granted to one Juris Doctorate candidate from New Jersey’s law schools. The award will be presented at the 9th Annual WILL Platinum Gala.
“I’m overjoyed and deeply honored to be recognized by this great association,” said Weiss. “I’ve always sought out opportunities to be involved in communities that seek the advancement of women in all areas, especially in the law.”
Philosophically, Weiss is right at home as a student member of the NJWLA, which is dedicated to the advancement of women in the legal profession. She was selected for this honor because she has strongly demonstrated her commitment to the Association’s goals.
Weiss obtained her undergraduate degree at Douglass at Rutgers University, which fosters women’s leadership skills. She said, “I wanted to become a leader who empowers other women.” At Seton Hall Law, she demonstrated her leadership skills by successfully organizing the Law Review Symposium, “Policing the Police and the Community.”
She also serves as co-president of the Peter W. Rodino Society, winning the Luigi Franzese Award for Leadership this year. Her work with the New Jersey Law and Empowerment Project (NJLEEP), an organization which educates and empowers local youth interested in potential careers in the law, further reflects her dedication to elevate the people in her community. She provides one-on-one mentoring to a high school girl, and has, for three years, educated and supported NJLEEP students as their constitutional law debate coach.
Weiss’s infectious enthusiasm for law impressed Professor Jessica Miles, who wrote to the NJWLA recommending Weiss for the scholarship. “Upon meeting Valerie, I was immediately struck by her poise and passion for learning and making a positive difference in her community,” wrote Professor Miles. “Valerie’s decision to enroll in Domestic Violence Law last spring, at the earliest possible opportunity, speaks volumes about her commitment to women’s issues.”
"Valerie is a vibrant, dynamic and generous servant-leader,” said Professor Paula Franzese, who also wrote a letter in support of Weiss and serves as faculty advisor to the Peter Rodino Society. “She celebrates the achievements of all women, understanding that a giving heart and relentless work ethic are the surest predicates to living a life of success and significance.”
Weiss’s concern with a particular issue affecting girls and women -- cyber-bullying -- was the topic of her application essay, which will be published in the NJWLA Gala Journal. The essay details extra steps she feels are necessary for the recently passed New Jersey cyber-bullying law to succeed. “I felt so strongly about this topic, because commonly both the perpetrators, and the victims, are girls, and the repercussions can be devastating,” said Weiss. “I think the law has to incorporate mandatory parental involvement in order to get 100 percent of the stakeholders involved.”
Her long-time interest in utilizing the law to help women became a reality when she worked in the Center for Social Justice’s Family Law Clinic, successfully representing a victim of domestic violence. When she first came to law school, Weiss read Deborah Kenn’s book, Lawyering From the Heart, and its message about the passion that people need in order to be effective lawyers struck a chord with her. “When I was able to represent this woman in court and really make a tremendous difference in her life, things came full circle,” she said.
Upon graduation, Weiss will clerk for the Honorable Carmen Messano, Presiding Judge, New Jersey Superior Court, Appellate Division. “I admire Judge Messano’s writing and I appreciate how he mentors his clerks and supports their career development," she said. "I look forward to the challenge of appellate division work.”
She is eager to get involved in the New Jersey legal community, especially the women lawyers’ community. Along the way, she is sure to continue to elevate, impress, and inspire. “I’ve met so many phenomenal people in the New Jersey law community – men and women – who have been tremendously supportive and have encouraged me to be at the table,” Weiss concluded. “I’m so excited to put the skills, that I’ve gained in law school, to work in the world.”