Cassye Cole, class of 2014, was awarded the Ruth Whitehead Whaley Scholarship by the Association of Black Women Attorneys (ABWA). The $2,500 cash scholarship was presented to Cole at the 19th Annual ABWA Scholarship Luncheon held in April at the Red Rooster restaurant in Harlem.
The scholarship is named for Ruth Whitehead Whaley, the first African-American woman to be admitted to practice law in New York in 1925. It honors law students who demonstrate a commitment to public interest or civil rights law and actively participate in community service. The Luncheon also honors black women attorneys who exemplify excellence and leadership in the legal profession and a commitment to public interest and community service.
After an intensive application process that included an interview, demonstration of public service commitments, letters of recommendation, and an essay focused on personal goals, Cole was one of two recipients of the scholarship. “I am really honored to have been recognized by the women of the ABWA,” said Cole. “They do amazing work on behalf of young people of color and they continually inspire me to work hard to be a mentor and role model.”
Cole’s steadfast commitment to public service stems from growing up in a disadvantaged community where organizations that provided mentorship programs, such as the Boys and Girls Club, made a huge impact in her life. “I had mentors who were always telling me that I could be anything I wanted to be and do anything I wanted to do,” said Cole. “I want to set an example and inspire young students of color that they too can aim high and achieve their goals.”
Cole is an inspiration, not only to young students of color, but to people of all ages and walks of life. She is a 2007 graduate of Florida State University, and during her undergraduate studies, she volunteered with the Florida Department of Juvenile Justice as a Youth Prevention Counselor. After moving to New York, and while earning a master’s degree from John Jay College of Criminal Justice, she worked volunteer overnight shifts as a Rape Counselor at the Crime Victims Treatment Center of St. Luke’s Roosevelt Hospital. Cole has also done volunteer work with the Manhattan Child Advocacy Center and the Queens Family Court. She is a board member of the National National Black Law Students Association (NBLSA) and recently traveled to Washington, D.C., and Atlanta with NBLSA to work with children in inner-city schools on the “Enhancing the Dream” program, which, much like Cole’s own personal story, inspires children to achieve their greatness.
Cole also is committed to enhancing diversity within the legal profession. Last month she spoke on a panel for the New York City Bar during its orientation for the incoming New York City Bar Diversity Fellows about her own experience as a Fellow in the program. She also recently served as a guest speaker during the Practicing Attorneys for Law Students (“PALS”) Annual Luncheon for Diversity Professionals about the importance of PALS, and specifically, her experience as a law student with its Mentorship Program.
The Ruth Whitehead Whaley Scholarship adds to Cole’s already impressive list of law school career achievements. She was recently awarded the the inaugural Patterson Belknap Webb & Tyler LLP Diversity Fellowship, where she will receive a financial award of up to $15,000 and a paid 2013 summer associate position. This past semester Cole held an internship with the United States Attorney’s Office, Eastern District of New York in its National Security and Cybercrime Section. She previously served as an intern with Judge Sterling Johnson, Jr. ’66 of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York and spent last summer at the New York County District Attorney's Office as a NYC Bar Fellow.