Five women who graduated from Wayne Law in 1998 have built strong careers and nurtured a close friendship for nearly 15 years — and now they’ve joined together to create an endowed scholarship to help beginning law students start their own career paths. The very first recipient of their scholarship was Carrie Floyd (left).
“I am hopeful that our scholarship may inspire other groups to give, or it may inspire other students to keep in touch with each other after they graduate, even though they all may be on differing career paths,” said Marcy Hahn, in-house counsel at Ford Motor Co. and a member of the Law School’s Board of Visitors (BOV).
She and the other four donors — Dianna Collins, an assistant prosecuting attorney in Washtenaw County and a BOV member; Stacey King, a partner at Garan Lucow Miller in Detroit; Samantha Lord, a sole practitioner in Port Huron; and Mary Margaret O’Donnell, owner of the law firm Blue Filament Intellectual Property LLC in Birmingham — made a pact to meet for dinner on the second Tuesday of every month when they graduated. They made the monthly dinner a priority in their lives, and they’ve never looked back.
The Memorandum of Agreement creating their endowment reflects their commitment to one another.
“Our circle of friendship has deepened over time, and will continue to be a rich blessing in each of our lives,” the memorandum reads. “We have shared every aspect of life together. Among us we have been through marriages, divorces, births of children, serious health issues, deaths of parents, changes of jobs, moves, milestone birthdays, celebrations and heartaches … Our legal careers are diverse and our individual successes have been enriched by our friendship. In addition to supporting each other in our personal lives, we have brainstormed legal theories, tested logic, strategized about workplace politics and drafted closing arguments together.”
During one monthly dinner together, the women talked about a conversation one of them had with a Law School development officer. The idea to create a scholarship was born, discussed and warmly embraced. They decided to call their gift the Brass Ring Endowed Scholarship.
“The ‘brass ring’ is a term that means striving for the highest prize, or living life to the fullest,” the memorandum reads. “Our enduring friendship gatherings have served as the foundation for our own attempts to live life to the fullest, our own brass ring. An endowed scholarship is a gift that creates a permanent legacy, connecting the past to the future. In honor of our enduring friendship and our collective and individual quests to live life to its fullest, we create the Brass Ring Scholarship.”
The award fund began with a gift of $30,000. The bulk of the donation will be invested by the university to become a gift to stand in perpetuity with a scholarship to be given each year to a first-year Wayne Law student in good standing who demonstrates financial need. The remainder of the donation has been directed into the fund’s beneficiary account so it is available for immediate scholarships of a minimum of $1,000 a year.
“It is our hope that the recipients of this scholarship will value friendship, strive to live life to its fullest potential, and aspire to achieve their own brass ring, whatever form that may take,” the five friends wrote in the memorandum.
If the scholarship recipients should need an example of how to live up to that hope, they have only to look at the alumnae who created the gift for them.