May 4, 2017
From left to right, Blair Gerold '18 from the Camden location, Seton Hall Law student Cornelia Szymanski, center, and Nilaja Ford '19, from the Newark location.

Congratulations to Rutgers Law students Nilaja Ford ‘19, who attends law school in Newark, and Blair Gerold ‘18, who attends law school in Camden. Both received scholarships this spring from the New Jersey Women Lawyers Association (NJWLA).

The students were honored by NJWLA at a gala in late April in Cedar Grove.

Ford, who works at Rutgers University in Piscataway during the day and attends law school at night, is involved in several law school programs and organizations including the Minority Student Program, Association of Black Law Students, Christian Legal Society, Street Law, Evening Students Association, and RU Black and Blue.

Gerold, who received the Dean’s Academic Promise Award, is the  2017-2018 editor-in-chief elect for Rutgers University Law Review, president of the Association for Public Interest Law, student leader for the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance  Pro Bono Project, and treasurer of intramural softball team and on the intramural flag football team.

A student from Seton Hall Law School, Cornelia Szymanski, also won a scholarship from the association.

As part of the scholarship competition, the students wrote essays addressing whether women, as attorneys and as aspiring leaders, are held to a different standard than men in being considered for leadership positions and promotions.

Ford’s essay ended with, “Regardless of gender, leadership qualities, strong work ethic and self-awareness should be taught to aspiring professionals through professional development. I hope to serve as an example for young women and I hope to have the ability to provide leadership opportunities through my own professional successes. As women, we should encourage each other to achieve our personal bests and reject the tendency to diminish ourselves due to imaginary limitations. Amazing things happen when women support women.”

An excerpt from Gerold’s essay, said, “When we tailor the hiring and promotion process to empirically predict who will succeed in a particular position there is no room for the individual gender biases we all carry, and all that will be left is a level playing field.”

The NJWLA began its scholarship program in 2009 to benefit women who are pursuing a law degree at one of New Jersey’s three law school campuses. 

Rutgers Law Media Contacts:
Mike Sepanic (Camden); Elizabeth Moore (Newark)

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