Exceptional 2004 Graduates Selected to Receive the Deans’ Student Leadership Award

The Law School recently honored two 2004 graduates with the Deans’ Student Leadership Award at the Law School’s Hooding Ceremony.  This distinctive award is reserved for a graduating student whose service and leadership within the school and/or the community is so exceptional that he/she merits extraordinary recognition. Only 8 prior graduates of the law school have received this award since its creation in 1991. While it is rare to have one person in a class whose service rises to this level, the Class of 2004 had two exceptional members who deserve this special recognition.

Kathleen M. Maloney
Kathleen Maloney’s quiet and unassuming demeanor masks the powerful and influential impact that she has had on the lives of others during her time at Wake Forest Law School. While keeping up with the demanding academic schedule of a law student, Kathleen has devoted much of her precious free time to helping children in need, both in Winston-Salem and around the world.

Early in her law school tenure, she became heavily involved with the Guardian Ad Litem (GAL) Program in Winston-Salem. GAL trains volunteers to act as advocates for children in the custody of the Department of Social Services. Kathleen was assigned to represent the interests of three sisters who had been sexually abused by the boyfriend of a family member.  She visited these young girls at their foster homes each weekend, often missing out on social activities with her own friends.  The court eventually granted custody of the girls to their grandmother who lived in Florida. Although it was difficult to see the children leave Winston-Salem, Kathleen hoped that this would be the start of a good life for each of them.  Tragically, the girls and their grandmother were in a serious car accident within days of their arrival in Florida.  All three sisters were killed instantly.  Kathleen was devastated and grieved the loss of these children who had become like little sisters to her.

She immediately channeled her grief into constructive action, continuing to represent other children through GAL and volunteering with the District Attorney’s Office to assist in the prosecution of child abusers. Even though one of the abuse cases reached a critical point during her law school exam period, she persisted in researching issues and writing a brief- all of this done at a time when most students would not think of taking on any extra work.  This brief ultimately convinced the judge in this case to allow significant evidence into the trial under a hearsay exception and persuaded the abuser to accept a plea bargain which sent him to prison.

During the summer after her second year of law school, Kathleen took her passion for helping children to a foreign land.  After writing a paper on sex crimes in third world countries, she volunteered to work with the National Network Against Girl Trafficking, an organization that rescues children from this mistreatment.  This required Kathleen to travel to Nepal, a place where she knew no one.  She was assigned to live with a local family during the week and spend weekends at a Buddhist monastery that housed victims of sex slavery.   The summer was personally rewarding for Kathleen but extremely difficult – while most people were friendly, some were not; she lived amidst abject poverty in a country where women do not have the same freedoms as American women; and the life stories of the young girls at the monastery were sad and emotionally draining.

During her weekend visits to the monastery, she offered compassion and hope to the girls who were housed there.  She spent hours playing games with the younger children and offering support to the older girls.  Her weekdays were spent researching legal means to abolish this horrific practice and to punish those involved.  In spite of these difficulties, one of Kathleen’s friends says, “Kathleen stuck it out, and when she describes her summer there, she does so in such a way that one would believe that she enjoyed every minute of the hardship she endured.”

In addition to helping people through the formal efforts of various volunteer organizations, Kathleen embodies the ideal of a humanitarian in her daily life.  She is always there for a friend in need, calls people on their birthdays and even offers rides to homeless strangers (something that her friends have argued with her about many times).

For the past three years, our Wake Forest and local communities have been enriched by Kathleen’s generous spirit. Without fanfare and with no expectation of recognition, Kathleen has quietly changed the lives of some and inspired everyone who knew her. One of her classmates sums Kathleen’s life up in this way, “She lives as a good person and inspires those around her to do the same…I have no doubt that Kathleen will take this law school experience and in many, many ways, make the world a better place.

Christine C. Bischoff
From the moment she enrolled at the law school, it was evident that Christine (Chrissy) Bischoff was going to leave an indelible mark on the law school community. In addition to standing out in the classroom as an intellectually curious student who always had a heart for the “underdog,” she quickly became involved outside of the classroom in one of the law school’s most active student organizations, the Public Interest Law Organization (PILO).  She eventually became PILO’s president during her second and third years. Chrissy spent countless hours organizing projects to fulfill PILO’s mission of supporting students who plan to enter the public interest arena and encouraging students to become involved in community service.  Each year, she worked tirelessly to insure that the traditional PILO auction successfully raised funding to provide summer living stipends for students who volunteer with public interest employers.  Under her leadership, PILO raised a record amount of funding for the summer of 2003 and even exceeded this record in 2004.

In spite of her busy schedule, Chrissy always made time for community service, and her enthusiasm for these projects was contagious.  One example of this contagious enthusiasm and its positive effect on our community occurred late last fall.  In December, as she was preparing for exams, Chrissy arranged for PILO and four other student organizations to sponsor a Christmas Angel Tree at the law school to provide holiday gifts for needy families in the Winston-Salem area. During study breaks, she bombarded the law school with gentle reminders of this project and ultimately collected over 170 holiday gifts from students, staff and faculty for these families. While most students were rushing away to join their families for the holidays, Chrissy and several other students filled their cars with these gifts and delivered them to a local agency for distribution.  As one of her classmates noted, “She does it all- because she believes it’s the right thing to do.”

During Chrissy’s tenure at the law school, she was affectionately known as the law school’s conscience.  She often challenged her classmates to see issues from the viewpoint of the other side; she also challenged the administration to sponsor events to encourage open discussion and civil dialogue on difficult but important issues.  Chrissy has the rare talent, though, of making these challenges in a compelling but non-offensive way. One of her classmates summed up the genuine affection and respect felt toward her by her peers by saying, “She is positive in a way that is absolutely contagious.  I’ve never walked away from a conversation with her without a smile on my face”.

Next year, Chrissy Bischoff will take her passion for helping others, her optimistic attitude and her leadership talents to Princeton’s School of Public Policy where she will work on a Masters in Public Policy to complement her law degree.  While she does not know exactly what the future holds, she hopes to become a leader in a non-profit organization that assists the most helpless members of our communities.

The Law School salutes these outstanding graduates and proudly recognizes their leadership and service within the Law School and beyond.  Both women lead by example and embrace the “Pro Humanitate” spirit encouraged throughout Wake Forest University.