ARCHIVED: California Law Student Wins $3,500 Strait Minority Scholarship

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June 13, 2002

A first-year law student from California was awarded the AALL and West Group George A. Strait Minority Scholarship for $3,500.

Mary Tu Thai, 23, will use the funds to help pay for her law school education at the University of the Pacific McGeorge School of Law in Sacramento, Calif. The scholarship is awarded to college graduates with law library experience who are members of a minority group as defined by current U.S. government guidelines and are degree candidates in accredited library or law schools.

Thai credits her interest in and preparation for law school to her seven-year stint at the Santa Clara County Law Library in San Jose, Calif. She worked there part time during her high school and college years labeling materials; shelving books; and interacting with attorneys, paralegals and pro se patrons. Thai learned about legal research and how the legal system plays a large part in everyone's lives.

Although she plans on practicing law after she graduates, she will not rule out law librarianship either.

"My career goal is to practice law for a few years, so that I know enough about contract and property law to practice internationally. Maybe after 10-15 years of legal practice, I plan to get my Ph.D. in economics. With that degree, I plan to teach part time while raising a family," according to Thai's personal statement, which was included in her application. "Maybe further along, I will come back and work at the place that helped open my eyes to the law -- the law library."

The scholarship was named in honor of George A. Strait (1914-1989), a longtime AALL member and law librarian. His career included working at the Harvard University Law School Library for 20 years. He left Harvard twice in that time to spearhead building the library collections at Northeastern University School of Law in Boston and the Antioch School of Law in Washington, D.C. After leaving Harvard, he became the director of the law library and professor of law at the University of Iowa College of Law. He was awarded the AALL (now Marian Gould Gallagher) Distinguished Service Award in 1989.

For more information about the scholarship, please go to