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Joseph F. Rice School of Law

  • Michelle Pappas Standing with Award Plaque

Michelle Pappas Named Class of 2024 Children’s Law Concentration Distinguished Student

The day before commencement, faculty, staff, and students gathered to celebrate this year’s Children’s Law Concentration graduates and to recognize Michelle Pappas, the Class of 2024 recipient of the Children’s Law Concentration Distinguished Student Award for her unwavering dedication and passion in the field of children's legal advocacy.  

While some students pursued children’s advocacy because of their experiences in law school, others, like Pappas, decided to earn their law degree to be better children’s advocates. Through her personal and professional encounters with the welfare system, Pappas discovered policy is the best way to enact systemic change to improve outcomes for children and their families. 

As someone interested in social work and law, Pappas enrolled at the University of South Carolina for the Combination Degree Program, earning her law degree and Master of Social Work in just four years. Targeted coursework and experiential learning taught Pappas the clinical social work skills to better understand the needs of people who are disadvantaged and the legal skills to advocate more effectively for clients.  

Pappas, like many Children’s Law Concentration graduates, regularly sought additional opportunities beyond her graduation requirements to support children and their well-being. In addition to her rigorous academic schedule, she served as vice president of the Pro Bono Program board and president of the Children’s Advocacy Law Society, organizing numerous community outreach and educational programs alongside her fellow students. 

“Today, as we honor Michelle Pappas with the distinguished student award, let us not only celebrate her remarkable achievements, but also draw inspiration from her exemplary dedication to making the world a better place for our most vulnerable populations,” said Morgan Maxwell, legislative resource attorney at the Children’s Law Center (CLC).  

The Class of 2024 is the first to graduate from the law school since being named for alumnus Joseph F. Rice ‘79. His wife Lisa Rice and their daughter Ann E. Rice Ervin ‘09 attended the awards ceremony and are longtime supporters of children’s rights and welfare. Their investment in the law school provides significant support to the CLC and Children's Law Concentration program, including a stipend for the first class of Lisa Rice and Ann E. Rice Ervin Child Advocates. 

These students have developed invaluable skills, resources, and knowledge about children's advocacy that will help them as they embark on their next chapter. They join “the already vast and passionate group of child advocates that bring justice and support for families just like mine,” Pappas concluded to a standing ovation. 

Class of 2024 Children’s Law Concentration graduates: 
  • Tasha Bridenback
  • Lynnise Brown
  • Nicholas Howe
  • Mackenzie Keane
  • Nicole Laing
  • Alyssa Markheim
  • Sarah Mays
  • Amanda Nesta
  • Michelle Pappas
  • Elizabeth Pritchard
  • Isabelle Rohde
  • Shannon Wood 

The Rice School of Law’s CLC is a training and resource for professionals involved in child maltreatment or juvenile justice court proceedings and child advocates working to improve the safety and well-being of children. The CLC is across the street from the law school and provides many opportunities supporting students and recent graduates including clerkships, experienced mentors, targeted career counseling, and a fellow

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