James Owen, a rising 2L at the University of Utah S.J. Quinney College of Law, is the recent recipient of a scholarship and fellowship. In the interview below, he describes the awards, shares guidelines on how maximize the chance of obtaining an award (one of which is the obvious but easily overlooked tip to carefully read the notices sent out to students), and encourages students to apply for as many scholarships as possible.
Q: First, congratulations on your two recent successes. Let’s start with the scholarship and fellowship—how did you learn about them, what do they cover, and how do you feel your experiences and education at the College of Law helped to make you uniquely qualified to receive them?
A: I was awarded the Rocky Mountain Mineral Law Foundation (RMMLF) Scholarship, as well as the G.W. Anderson Oil and Gas Fellowship.
I learned about both the scholarship and the fellowship from the notices that are sent out to all students via email. I believe there are countless opportunities that students may miss if they’re not diligent and willing to dig a little deeper when they learn about a scholarship or fellowship opportunity.
The RMMLF scholarship will help cover tuition. It also includes a paid trip to Anchorage, Alaska, to attend the RMMLF Annual Institute.
The G.W. Anderson Fellowship includes a partial tuition waiver , a scholarship award, and a paid position as a Summer Associate with the law firm Holland & Hart LLP.
The RMMLF scholarship required applicants to submit a very large application packet. I’m definitely glad I didn’t wait until the last minute, as my application went through multiple drafts before it was ready.
The G.W. Anderson fellowship also required an extensive application packet, but because the fellowship included a summer clerk position, it also required an interview. I recommend that students practice interviewing skills. You can be a great student and still lose opportunities if you crash and burn in the interview.
I feel that my unique background and education helped qualify me for both awards. I have a Bachelor’s of Science in Mining Engineering as well as a Master’s in Business Administration, both from the University of Utah. I’ve also worked in state government as an engineer. My education at the College of Law was also a critical component to receiving the awards. Both awards had a focus in particular practice areas of law. Doing well in classes that are relevant to those legal practices can make a big difference to a scholarship or fellowship selection committee.
Q: Would you encourage your fellow students to apply for scholarships and submit their work for publication? If so, why?
I would encourage other students to apply for as many scholarship and fellowship opportunities as they can. You may not get it, but you never know. If the answer is going to be “no”, let the selection committees tell you no, rather than you telling yourself you don’t have a chance without even trying.
Q: Is there anything else you would like to add?
A: Scholarship and fellowship awards have more advantages than the obvious financial benefits. First, accolades like that look great on a resume. Law students are always looking for ways to distinguish themselves, and prestigious scholarship awards are a great way to do that. Being an RMMLF scholar and a G.W. Anderson has also allowed me to develop great relationships in the legal community and has provided amazing networking opportunities. It just so happened that one of the attorneys at Holland & Hart that interviewed me for the fellowship was a previous winner of the RMMLF scholarship. I can’t describe how much it helped to have that connection. You just never know what opportunities might be waiting if you’re just willing to take the time to submit an application.