Hope Steffensen Awarded Polking Family Fellowship for Law Studies

Author: Kenneth Hallenius

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February 24, 2017 -- The Notre Dame Center for Ethics and Culture is excited to announce the 2017 CEC Polking Family Fellow, which results in a full tuition fellowship for three years of study at Notre Dame Law School. Hope Steffensen will begin studies in Fall 2017, joining the inaugural Polking Fellow, Margo Borders.

"The Polking Family Fellowship is awarded to outstanding incoming law students that have shown great potential to develop as leaders who understand the connection between the law, public policy, and building a sustainable culture of life," said O. Carter Snead, Director of the Center for Ethics and Culture and professor of law. "We are excited to welcome Hope to the Notre Dame family and to work closely with her during her studies. We believe that her work with the Center, its visiting fellows, its scholarly research projects, and our worldwide network of legal and public policy scholars will serve to build a tremendous foundation for her future accomplishments and advocacy on behalf of life."

Steffensen will graduate in May 2017 from the University of Texas at Dallas with a degree in Political Science. She hails from Kenai, Alaska, and earned a Junior Women's National Title in freestyle wrestling in high school. As a student at UT Dallas, she researched the jurisprudence of abortion during an internship with the Heritage Foundation and advocated for wrongfully convicted prisoners with the Innocence Project of Texas. As she wrote, "Leaving wrestling has given me the opportunity to explore cases worth fighting for, and I see the law as an opportunity to be at the forefront of these worthy struggles."

"In the face of a shifting Supreme Court, I am going to law school at an opportune time to make a difference in the lives of thousands of unborn children. Being involved with the Center for Ethics and Culture will allow me to make the most of this opportunity," Steffensen concluded.

"Hope perfectly embodies the ideal of the CEC Polking Fellowship," Snead said. "Her academic credentials place her at the very top of law school applicants across the nation. Even with all of her amazing accomplishments, Hope is humble, thoughtful, and devoted to working in service of the most vulnerable. She is going to be a superstar."

The Polking Family Fellowship was established in February 2016 to recruit and provide full tuition funding for the top law school candidates in the nation who have a demonstrated passion for the Catholic mission of the Law School and who share Notre Dame’s commitment to the inalienable dignity of every human life from conception to natural death. The fellowship was made possible through a generous endowment made by Paul and Joan Polking. Paul Polking ’59 B.S., ’66 J.D., is a retired executive vice president and general counsel for the Bank of America Corporation. He is also a member of the Law School Advisory Council.