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Joseph F. Rice School of Law

  • Attendees of 2023 HERstory Luncheon & Award Ceremony

HERstory: Celebrating women's contributions

In early February, the Office of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion invited students, faculty, and staff to nominate women peers who make a difference at the law school and in their communities.  

Director of DEI David Mahatha started the HERstory initiative at his previous institution after hearing how former colleagues felt underappreciated. When he joined the University of South Carolina School of Law, he brought HERstory, too. 

 “Although March is Women’s History Month and we often focus on women in the past, I wanted also to spend the month celebrating our phenomenal women of today,” Mahatha says. 

More than a dozen women were nominated for four of the school’s five values: service, success, passion, integrity, and community. Members of the Diversity and Inclusion Task Force – comprised of students in the law school’s student affinity groups – reviewed nominations to select the winners.  

“HERstory, like other DEI programs and initiatives, is aimed at creating a sense of belonging for all students, faculty, and staff,” Mahatha says. “We all make a difference, and everyone should be valued and recognized for their contributions.” 

The initiative culminated in a luncheon where nominees and winners alike were celebrated. Honorees are listed below with excerpts from their nominations. 

Reilly Lerner

Reilly Lerner ‘23

Service Award Recipient
Reilly has been a fierce advocate for increasing awareness of and access to the Counselor's Closet, which supports students who may need access to food, books, or clothing. Additionally, Reilly has worked tirelessly during her tenure at the law school to ensure students have access to menstrual products, moving the Committee on Period Equity program from donation-based to a fully funded program that ensures continuity of access for menstruating students after her graduation. She has taken painstaking care to ensure that all language related to the program is as inclusive and thoughtful as possible. 

Josie Brown

Professor Josie Brown

Passion Award Recipient
Professor Brown's passion for improving gender equality is truly inspiring and contagious.
.. Her generosity in donating her time and services to student organizations like Parents in Law Student Association, Women in Law, and many others is invaluable... on the day the Dobbs decision was released, Prof. Brown took the time to meet with WIL students or anyone else who wanted to join so that she could explain what the decision meant and provide support or assurance to anyone who was concerned about the decision. The extraordinary depth of her knowledge is sincerely remarkable, but it pales in comparison to her kindness and generosity. 

Paige Brown

Paige Brown ‘23

Integrity Award Recipient
Paige has taken on major leadership roles with the Public Interest Law Society, Mock Trial Bar, and the Black Law Students Association. She has been a constant reminder that there is a good core of South Carolinians that strive for excellence. She is inspiring; she has so many noteworthy accomplishments and yet is the most humble and sincere person I've met in law school.  

Natalie McCoy

Natalie McCoy

Community Award Recipient (tie)
Ms. McCoy is always lively and willing to help... [her area in the Registrar’s office] serves as a second home for many students; if you ever go visit, you'll see how many students come see her for a bright spot in their day. She has good advice and great conversation. She's a huge part of the law school community and deserves recognition as such. 

Emily Suski

Professor Emily Suski

Community Award Recipient (tie)
Professor Suski’s
warm nature and sharp wit immediately put me at easeshe has opened her doors and been a frequent source of guidance, comfort, and reassurance... She is adored among students for her commitment to her students and her willingness to share her knowledge. Furthermore, her scholarship one Title IX is truly important work for shifting Title IX interpretation to a more just educational system for victims of sexual harassment, which will make better communities for students across the United States.

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