Baylor Law Recognizes Student Achievements at the 2017 John William & Florence Dean Minton Student Awards Ceremony and Lecture Series

March 30, 2017

Baylor Law Recognizes Student Achievements at the 2017 John William & Florence Dean Minton Student Awards Ceremony and Lecture Series

Baylor Law students to gather their awards for Pro Bono service
Javier Cabanillas, Shannon Blankenbeker, Hannah Brewer, and Enrique Rojas were among the Baylor Law students presented with awards for their pro bono service. More than 175 students received awards or were recognized for their achievements in academics, advocacy, law review, and pro bono and public service during the 2017 John William & Florence Dean Minton Student Awards Ceremony and Lecture Series.

WACO, Texas -

On March 29, Baylor Law honored and recognized the outstanding achievements of current Baylor Law students at the 2017 John William & Florence Dean Minton Student Awards Ceremony and Lecture Series.

A full listing of the donors and award recipients is available in the ceremony program.

A Theme of Excellence

Law Students, dressed up in their Sunday best, gather to celebrate Baylor Law achievements

The ceremony is named in honor of John William Minton and Florence Dean Minton–their daughter, the late Polly Minton McLeRoy established and endowed the lecture series in 1993 to honor her parents. At the ceremony, Baylor Law honors and recognizes the outstanding achievements of current Baylor Law students.

Dean Toben delivers a lecture at the Baylor Law Awards

"I am delighted that the Student Bar Association organizes this event every year to highlight the achievements of our students," said Dean Brad Toben during the ceremony. "The theme of the night is excellence. As Baylor Law students, you have self-selected to follow a more difficult and more rigorous path. Becoming a Baylor Lawyer is not easy. But, through your hard work and your grit, you will serve your clients, your profession, and your community with a commitment to excellence. That is what it means to be a Baylor Lawyer."

A Distinguished and Inspiring Speaker

Anthony Bruster delivers a speech from his experience in law and economics

This year's ceremony featured distinguished speaker Anthony Bruster of Bruster PLLC. Anthony received a BBA in economics from Baylor University and graduated with his JD summa cum laude and second in his class at Baylor Law in 2002. After ten years of practice as a trial attorney, where Bruster developed an impressive reputation as a fierce and zealous advocate, Bruster shifted his focus from the practice of law to mission work. In addition to practicing law part time, he now works on orphan care and Christian education in developing countries.

A hall full of attentive attendees gathers in a lecture hall
A photo of Dean Toben, Anthony Bruster, and William McLeRoy
Speaker Anthony Bruster (center) with Dean Brad Toben (left) and William McLeRoy (right), grandson of John William and Florence Dean Minton

"If I can tell you the three most important things I have learned in the fifteen years since graduating from Baylor Law," said Bruster, "it is these three things: 1. Your name is uniquely yours–think about what you want your name to mean to other people. 2. Strive to do all things with excellence–don't just aim for passing, aim for the high A. And, 3. Sometimes, success is different from significance–significance often comes out of love and generosity."

Over the past twenty-four years, the award ceremony and lecture series has welcomed many distinguished speakers whose words have inspired thousands of Baylor Law students. Among the previous speakers are: the Honorable David Sibley, Principal of The Sibley Group and a former Texas State Senator; Cindy Dyer, Director of the Human Rights Program, and Vice President of the Vital Voices Global Partnership; the Honorable Ed Kinkeade, Federal Judge for the United States District Court for the Northern District of Texas; and Chet Edwards, former United States Representative for the 11th Congressional District of Texas.

Open Photo Slideshow

Baylor Law Students and Their Commitment to Pro Bono Service

Among the many accomplishments honored this year, five Baylor Law students were recognized for each having completed over 225 hours of pro bono and general service work during their time at Baylor Law. Baylor Law has a deep commitment to service: service to clients, service to the bar, and service to the community. These students are exemplars of what it means to become a Baylor Lawyer.

Lena Proft and Brad Toben pose for a picture with her award for Pro Bono work as a student
Graduating Baylor Law 3L Lena Proft receiving a Pro Bono and Public Service Platinum Level award from Dean Brad Toben.

"Being a part of the Baylor Law pro bono program was the highlight of my law school experience," said Lena Proft, a graduating 3L and one of the five students who completed 225 hours of pro bono service. "I enjoyed interacting with real people and being able to apply concepts taught in class. I recommend everyone give back if they are able."

"Baylor Law School is committed to instilling the virtues of servant leadership into all of our students," said Stephen Rispoli, assistant dean of student affairs and pro bono programs. "I am thrilled with the extremely high participation rate of our students in pro bono and public service programs. Especially so with those who have gone above and beyond to improve access to justice in our country through their volunteer work. Our students are the future leaders of our profession, and their commitment to the rule of law and access to justice is inspiring."

WRITTEN BY: Joshua Weaver, Marketing and Public Relations Specialist
CONTACT: or 254.710.6681
PHOTOS BY: Nick Teixeira, Baylor Law School

Established in 1857, Baylor Law School was one of the first law schools in Texas and one of the first west of the Mississippi River. Today, the school has more than 7,400 living alumni. It is accredited by the American Bar Association and is a member of the Association of American Law Schools. Baylor Law School has a record of producing outstanding lawyers, many of whom decide upon a career in public service. The Law School boasts two governors, members or former members of the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate, two former directors of the FBI, U.S. ambassadors, federal judges, justices of the Texas Supreme Court and members of the Texas Legislature, among its notable alumni. In its law specialties rankings, U.S. News & World Report ranked Baylor Law's trial advocacy program as #3 in the nation. Baylor Law School is also ranked #51 in the magazine's 2018 edition of "America's Best Graduate Schools." The National Jurist ranks Baylor Law as one of the "Best School for Practical Training," and #4 in the nation in its most recent "Best Law School Facilities" listing. The Business Insider places Baylor Law among the top 50 law schools in the nation. Baylor Law School received the 2015 American Bar Association Pro Bono Publico Award, making it only the third law school in the nation to be honored with the award since the award's inception in 1984.

Baylor University is a private Christian University and a nationally ranked research institution, characterized as having "high research activity" by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. The University provides a vibrant campus community for approximately 16,000 students by blending interdisciplinary research with an international reputation for educational excellence and a faculty commitment to teaching and scholarship. Chartered in 1845 by the Republic of Texas through the efforts of Baptist pioneers, Baylor is the oldest continually operating University in Texas. Located in Waco, Baylor welcomes students from all 50 states and more than 80 countries to study a broad range of degrees among its 12 nationally recognized academic divisions. Baylor sponsors 19 D1 varsity athletic teams and is a founding member of the Big XII Conference. Learn more at

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