College of Law > Academics > Centers, Institutes & Initiatives > Center for Public Interest Law > Pro Bono & Community Service Initiative > Service Awards > Past Awards

Past Awards


DePaul Pro Bono & Community Service Initiative Service Awards

DePaul Law students completed over 7,000 hours of service during the 2020-2021 academic year by participating in a variety of service opportunities including:

  • Preparing advanced directives for low-income LGBTQ seniors 

  • Providing legal help to low income individuals without attorneys through Illinois Free Legal Answers

  • Drafting legal petitions and providing limited-scope consultations for expunging and sealing criminal records 

  • Performing legal research on police misconduct litigation

  • Working with clients over the phone to help them apply for public benefits
  • Helping victims of domestic violence obtain emergency orders of protection

  • Assisting immigrants with petitions for asylum

  • Serving as legal observers during racial justice protests

  • Volunteering with public defender, state's attorney, and other government offices

  • Assisting voters through election protection hotlines

  • Navigating self-represented litigants through court process during domestic relations judges’ court calls

  • Packing food for distribution at food pantries and delivering food to individuals living in food deserts

  • Making blankets for homeless youth, painting pictures to decorate a domestic violence shelter, and creating videos teaching skills to seniors

2021 Student Service Award Recipients 

The Pro Bono & Community Service Initiative (PBCSI) presents four service awards annually to students who have demonstrated an outstanding commitment to service during law school. 

Benjamin Hooks Distinguished Public Service Award

Named in honor of one of the law school’s most outstanding alumni, the Benjamin Hooks Distinguished Public Service Award is awarded to graduating third and fourth year students who have completed 200 or more hours of volunteer service during their time at DePaul and who best exemplify the Vincentian commitment to service and social justice.

  • Brielle C. Berndtson
  • Keeley DeBack
  • Cara J. Filippelli
  • Amy Josephine Foster-Gimbel
  • Maria Morales
  • Patrisia Wonje Vekima
  • Njeri A. Williams
  • Jessica Grace Wilson
  • Tricia S. Young

President’s Award for Service

Awarded to students completing 200 hours of volunteer work during their time at DePaul

  • Reagan Airey
  • Samuel F. Archie
  • Megan M. Osadzinski
  • Sophia Carroll Wilson

Chancellor’s Award for Service

Awarded to students completing 100 hours of volunteer work during their time at DePaul

  • Farzana Ahmed
  • Avneet Kaur Chawla
  • Catherine N. Coghlan
  • Rolando Curington Jr.
  • Benjamin Logan Dockery
  • Melissa N. Haniff
  • Jonas Hwang
  • Olivia Kappers
  • Elizabeth D. Lucchese-Soto
  • Chad McJannett
  • Nicholas Pugesek
  • Whitney Chaimson Roth
  • Henry T. Stillwell
  • Maya A. Walker
  • Lauryn Woodward

Dean’s Certificate of Service

Awarded to students completing 50 hours of volunteer work during their time at DePaul

  • Nicole Ann Alfano
  • Ana Laura Baca
  • Darcy E. Bautista
  • Maya Flores
  • Sarah Hanlon
  • Mary T. Hannon
  • Jamie P. McLaughlin
  • Tiffany Chisom Okoye
  • Sheng Tong
  • Sarah Van Pelt
  • Olivia Riley Wassen
  • Kizuwanda Wyatt

2021 Alumni Service Award Recipient

PBCSI also honors a DePaul alumna/us who, through years of service, has demonstrated an ongoing and deep commitment to pro bono legal services for the poor and disadvantaged and has inspired others to do the same. 

María Puppo Martinez (JD/LLM 2017) 

Maria Puppo Martinez

María Puppo Martinez is counsel at BP Tax Advisory in Montevideo, Uruguay. She also teaches a course on U.S. law to LLM students at Universidad de Montevideo. She has dedicated a significant portion of her legal practice to pro bono work and has especially focused her pro bono practice over the past year to serve people affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Highlights include:

  • Providing high quality legal help to those in need through the Illinois Free Legal Answers platform. The website, which serves low-income Illinois residents, functions as a state-wide virtual civil legal clinic and has always been a critical way for underserved populations to access free legal information and advice. During the pandemic, Free Legal Answers became even more essential given that many resources for self-represented litigants had to shut down. In 2020, Maria worked with DePaul law students to answer 122 client questions, which earned her the designation of an ABA Free Legal Answers 2020 Pro Bono Leader. So far in 2021, she has already answered 52 questions. In total, she has helped over 170 people with their legal issues and continues to have a big impact.
  • Drafting and editing legal resources for self-represented litigants on the Illinois Legal Aid Online (ILAO) website. She has translated articles into Spanish and has reviewed resources to make sure the law is up to date. This past year in particular, she also helped ILAO draft articles on matters relating to COVID, including a special section on the CARES Act, eviction moratoriums, protections afforded by Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), and Illinois Department of Employment Security unemployment claims and appeals.
  • Serving as a mock trial judge for high school students with the Illinois State Bar Association.
  • Seeking book donations for children at her local library in her hometown, Ciudad de la Costa, Uruguay.

María's outstanding commitment to service truly embodies DePaul's Vincentian values and is an inspiration to the College of Law community.