The Catholic University of America

Cardinal Service Commitment Award

Outstanding Graduate Student – Stella Meena Lee


Stella Meena Lee, a third-year student in the Columbus School of Law, received the Cardinal Service Commitment Award as the outstanding graduate student. The award was presented by The Catholic University of America on April 10, 2012, in celebration of the University's 125th anniversary.

Lee contributed 1,187 hours of service to the University's anniversary initiative, the most by any individual. Her volunteer service included working as in-house counsel for the Children's National Medical Center, working on vaccine and autism issues for the U.S. Court of Claims Office of Special Masters, serving as president of the Student Bar Association and co-president of the Health Law Society, and assisting the law school's Dean's Search Committee as its student representative.

Lee, who is from Centreville, Va., was a registered nurse before entering law school. She has focused her legal studies and volunteer service in the area of health law.

"I like that I am able to bring parts of my nursing profession into my law school education," Lee said. "I am drawn to the fact that I am able to solve problems for a group of people – to help in some way as a part of a positive solution."

As a nurse, Lee saw issues of injustice in the health care system that she wanted to address. "I was frustrated with the unequal access to health care, and I realized that I could not help the problem without additional education." she said.

"My grandfather really pushed me to apply to law school and was thrilled beyond words I would attend THE Catholic University of America. My parents, of course, wholly supported the decision," Lee said.

"I chose CUA because prior to law school I was a Sunday school catechist for five years and I thought that this school would be the perfect place for me to learn the law while further learning how to serve others," she said.

Asked what motivates her to give so much of her time to service, Lee said, "My family is the driving factor as to why I devote my time to service. I want to be half as good a person as my parents and grandparents are. I want to repay them for their unfailing faith in me and for consistently supporting me."

Lee also noted the personal rewards she gets from all the service she does. "I am able to meet wonderful, driven people who genuinely care about not only ethics in the law but people in general. I draw inspiration from them and that motivates me to be a better person and to push myself harder."

> Complete list of Cardinal Service Commitment Award winners