Practice Ready Attorneys Committed To Inclusive Community and Excellence

The Law School assigns all incoming first-semester students to a Learning Community during orientation. The mission of the Learning Communities is to support the development of Practice Ready Attorneys Committed To Inclusive Community and Excellence (PRACTICE). Each Learning Community will consist of approximately 8-10 students and will be led by a Dean’s Fellow, a high-performing, upper-level law student committed to modeling the professional qualities of excellence the Law School cultivates and honors. Through weekly group meetings, students will practice the study skills and habits necessary for law school success, first-time bar passage, and the practice of law. Participation in a Learning Community during the first semester of law school is a graduation requirement for all students.

How can I become a Dean's Fellow?

2016 Dean's Fellows

The University of Dayton School of Law is proud to present the Dean's Fellows:

Fall 2016


Jessica Andress

I am honored to have been afforded the privilege of being a Dean’s Fellow for the 2015-2016 school year. I believe that the unique role of a Dean’s Fellow offers incoming students a support system and a guide to success. The first year of law school presents exceptional challenges that often leave students feeling lost and overwhelmed; I am excited for the opportunity to impart on the new students the skills and knowledge that helped me through these moments during my first year at UDSL.  I look forward to assisting the incoming class as they discover their strengths, overcome their weaknesses and grow as students, leaders and future attorneys. 


Mary Towne Bedard

The Paul McGreal Fellow

I am eager and honored to serve as the Paul McGreal Dean’s Fellow this fall. As the senior Dean’s Fellow, it is my responsibility to assist the other Dean’s Fellows as they navigate the incoming 1Ls through the first year of law school. The driving force behind the Dean’s Fellow program is “community.” I felt that inclusion from day one of my 1L orientation and it motivated me to succeed so that I could play a part in enhancing others’ experiences. Before my law school career at UDSL, I had been out of an academic setting for over five years. I started a career, got married, traveled, and had my first child. A new beginning was daunting. But, for a girl who always felt comfortable evolving from one soccer roster to another, childhood through college, my Learning Community became my new team. Last year I was fortunate enough to lead my own Learning Community, and in the fall I look forward to both serving and learning from a new team of Dean’s Fellows. I attribute many of my academic successes to the insight this program has afforded me the past two years. In turn, over the next several months, my colleagues and I will cultivate the same inclusive, informative, and encouraging environment for the incoming students. I am proud to serve as a leader in the UDSL community, and I look forward to the many rewards this role is sure to bring. 


Jessica Bernard

Success in law school is dependent on a student’s ability to adapt to a fast paced, rigorous, and competitive learning environment. As someone who entered law school not knowing a single attorney or anything about the field, I am honored to be able to impact the Dayton Law community by helping the next class of Dayton lawyers. Law school is overwhelming and my goal is to provide the students with an open forum of communication allowing them to feel comfortable asking the difficult questions. Law school is very demanding and sometimes students forget that life is happening outside of it. I hope to teach the students the importance of time management and life balance. While law school has been nothing short of hard work, it has proven to be very rewarding. I hope to motivate and encourage the incoming students as they embark on their law school journey. 


Ebony Davenport

I could not be more excited to serve as a Dean's Fellow for this upcoming school year. Entering law school as a first generation college graduate and prospective first generation attorney, I was a little afraid that I would not "get it." I credit my success in school to the amazing support I received at home and at the School of Law. I had such a great experience with my Dean's Fellow that I knew that if given the opportunity to serve I would do so gladly. Transitioning to law school is not an easy feat but some of the stress that comes along with school can be relieved by establishing a solid support team that offers encouragement and guidance. As a Dean's Fellow I am committed to helping other students achieve their academic goals; connecting students with resources to assist in their professional development; and helping students feel a sense of community here at UDSL.


Beth Herdmann

I am honored and privileged to serve as a Dean’s Fellow for the incoming class of 2019.  I have had the unique experience of attending graduate school and working in the public interest law sector prior to attending UDSL.  As one of the non-traditional students in law school, I have been able to use my experiences to help conceptualize cases, as well as manage my school and work life. One of the biggest challenges incoming law students face is being able to prioritize and digest the massive amount of material during their first year. The Dean’s Fellow program aims to assist with organizing and understanding the tasks associated with first year classes, as well as the transition into law school. Aside from the educational aspect, as a Dean’s Fellow, I aim to be a resource for first year students to help them build their networking base, increase their motivation to take the initiative, and guide them in honing their passions and skills. 


Timothy Hill

The University Of Dayton School Of Law has a wonderful tradition of developing attorneys who make a difference in their respective communities.  That tradition does not derive by mere chance, but a concerted effort to continue a wonderful cycle of success.  Being a Dean’s Fellow allows me to play an important role in ensuring that UDSL’s future remains bright and steady.  I am proud to have the opportunity to assists our new students on their journey to greatness, and I look forward to providing the guidance I was fortunate to receive.  My Dean’s Fellow positively impacted my academic trajectory and provided the tools I needed to make the transition to law school.  I look forward to doing the same for the incoming cohort, and it is my absolute pleasure to share all I have learned with the class of 2019.


Alexandra Laine-Gieringer

To me, the most rewarding aspect of a legal career is the ability to give back to my community. The University of Dayton School of Law instills the importance of service in their students through their motto, "Practice Excellence," and I'm honored to have received the opportunity to serve and guide the incoming class through their first year. I aim to assist my Learning Community with their transition into law school by offering honest advice and acting as their training wheels until they're comfortable managing their time alone. I believe that every student is different, and that guidance is not "one-size-fits-all." Each person has their own motivations and struggles, and it is my role to emphasize their strengths and help them overcome their difficulties. If nothing else, I aim to be an outlet for their stress, worries, and fears so I can provide them with the necessary reassurance in order to remind them that law school is manageable.


Tessa Marsh

A key reason I wanted to pursue a career as an attorney was the ability it would give me to help others and give back. The Dean’s Fellow program allows me to achieve those aspirations within the University of Dayton School of Law community. As a first year law student, the Learning Community provided an outlet for stress, guidance in my studies, and a “big picture” perspective. It is important to give the newest members of the UDSL family the same opportunity to succeed that was afforded to me. While serving in the military, I learned that the true measure of a leader is not individual accolades, but whether they have helped other realize and attain their full potential. I am excited to be a positive influence in a new group of law students reaching their goals. The University of Dayton School of Law and the Dean’s Fellow program exemplifies the motto “Practice Excellence.”


Anthony Satariano

I am truly honored to have the opportunity serve as a Dean’s Fellow for the 2016 Fall Semester. Only one short year ago my Dean’s Fellow proved to be invaluable in helping me with my transition into UDSL and now I am very excited to reverse roles and be the helping hand that students need. Law school can be challenging at times, but it is also an extremely enriching and empowering experience. I hope to be able to show the new students how much they can get out of their time here at UDSL and aid them in any way possible during their pursuit to become practice ready attorneys. I cannot wait to give back to the UDSL community and watch as the new student’s help to make it stronger than ever. 


Stephanie Schmalz

It is no secret that law school can been an intimidating experience. Just one year ago I was in your shoes walking into my first day feeling overwhelmed and unsure of what lay ahead. Thankfully, I quickly found comfort in my Dean’s Fellow who assisted me in successfully navigating through my first semester. I hope to provide that same comforting experience to each member of my Learning Community and show them that although challenging, law school can be an extremely rewarding experience. I hope to provide my group with the skills that have helped me succeed thus far in law school and support them as they strive to reach their own personal goals. I am honored to be a Dean’s Fellow and look forward to welcoming the class of 2019 to the UDSL community! 


Shawna Sorrell

The University of Dayton School of Law fosters an unparalleled supportive community that extinguishes the horror stories many of us hear before attending law school.  The Dean’s Fellow Program is only one example of the support UDSL provides its students in their climb toward success.  As a Dean’s Fellow for the 2016-2017 school year, I have the opportunity to mentor a new group of undoubtedly exceptional first year law students.  When I came to law school I had no idea what to expect, so when we were introduced to our Dean’s Fellows, I felt like a huge weight had been lifted off of my shoulders.  Throughout the semester, knowing that I could contact a person who had been in my shoes just a year ago, put my mind at ease in regards to what to expect from professors, how to interpret grades, and how to study for exams.  It is an honor to be able to provide this type of mentorship to the incoming class, and to give them the same guidance that I received when I was a nervous and unsure first year student.  

Summer 2016


Kristina Burris

I am extremely excited and honored to serve as a Dean’s Fellow for the incoming summer start class of 2016. I am currently a 2L summer start and I hope I can help all of the incoming summer starts adjust to this unique and accelerated program. The Dean’s Fellow Program is just one of the great programs the University of Dayton School of Law offers to help new students adjust to law school and my goal as a Dean’s Fellow is to help students not only adjust academically to law school but also to help them adjust to the new environment, which can be very scary at first. I am looking forward to a great summer and I feel so privileged to be given the chance to help others as they begin their journey of becoming successful, practice ready attorneys! 


Hannah Mohler

Coming to law school last year, I felt like I was completely unprepared for what lay ahead.  Thankfully, my Dean’s Fellow was there to coach me through the first challenging semesters.  The Dean’s Fellow Program remains an invaluable asset for me as I continue through my time here at UD.  From the beginning, my passion has been to work with the intent of helping others.  Fortunately, I have a new opportunity to do so by being a Dean’s Fellow for our incoming summer starts.  I am thrilled to help new students along the first overwhelming steps into law school by being a mentor, sounding board, and encourager.  My hope is that this will be the beginning of a career built on service.  While my path may be different from theirs, we all start in the same place: at our lovely Dayton campus in the summer.  I look forward to seeing where these new students go, and I greatly appreciate the opportunity to work more closely with the Dayton Law community.  


LeighAnn Thomas

The Dean’s Fellow Program connects upper-level students who are willing to share their experiences in order to help guide and support the newest members of the UDSL community.  Being a Dean’s Fellow allows to me to pass along insight that I have gained over the past year to help incoming first-year students navigate their way through the occasionally intimidating law school experience.  As a summer start student I entered law school just one year ago and believe the efforts of the Dean’s Fellows made a meaningful difference in my transition to law school.  Dean’s Fellows are invaluable resources who work to set-up new students for success in their legal education by fostering academic excellence and community support.  It is an honor to have been selected and I look forward to working with the incoming cohort of first-year students.


Erin Uppenkamp

I am truly excited for the opportunity to serve as a Dean’s Fellow for the 2016 Summer Semester.  Beginning my journey at UDSL in the summer of 2015, I quickly realized the pivotal role that the Learning Communities were having on my success in law school.  My excitement to serve as a Dean’s Fellow derives from those experiences and realizing that being successful in law school involves much more than I anticipated.  There are the obvious necessities for success in law school – drive, dedication, and discipline.  However, the more nuanced necessities that aid the transition for incoming students into law school are delivered through Learning Communities.  A few of those necessities include instilling confidence, providing encouragement and lending a helping hand students can rely on.  Being able to provide that support system as a Dean’s Fellow, I look forward to guiding incoming law students through obstacles of law school and witnessing them succeed.  

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