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Two SU College of Law students awarded Tully Rinckey Foundation military scholarships

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Two Syracuse University College of Law students have been awarded the inaugural Tully Rinckey Foundation Military Scholarship — a scholarship awarded to law students who have served or are serving in the United States Armed Forces.

First-year law student Tiffany Johnson and third-year Andrew Patterson were awarded the scholarships based on their military experience, how their experience influenced their choice to pursue a legal career and how they plan to utilize the career to benefit other service members, according to a March news release.

Before starting his legal career, Mathew Tully, a founding partner at Tully Rinckey PLLC, served in the U.S. Army for three years as a field artillery officer.

“As an attorney and veteran myself, I can speak first hand to how my military experience positively impacted my legal career,” Tully said in the release. “We are thrilled to award these scholarships to these deserving law students who are balancing law school and military service, and who plan to use their legal careers to assist veterans and the military community.”

Patterson is a retired U.S. Army captain in his final year at the College of Law. After enlisting in the Army in 2004, Patterson was commissioned as an active-duty military police officer upon graduating from Boston University in 2009.

With his experience in law enforcement, both in the military and as a Massachusetts state police officer, Patterson said he realized he wanted to pursue a legal career.

“It just made sense for me,” Patterson said. “Once I retired from (law enforcement), I decided that it would make a lot of sense to move into a more administrative role like being a lawyer.”

Patterson said he utilized several “benefit opportunities” for veterans to continue his education. The U.S. offers military veterans financial assistance through programs such as the Post-9/11 G.I. Bill, which includes educational benefits.

As he completes his final year in the College of Law, Patterson works as a student attorney at SU’s Betty and Michael D. Wohl Veterans Legal Clinic, which provides free legal services to veterans seeking benefits from the Department of Veteran Affairs or to upgrade a military discharge.

“Being a part of the Veterans Legal Clinic opens you up to a lot of these scholarship opportunities,” Patterson said. “It came across my desk, and it looked like a pretty good opportunity for me, so I jumped at the chance to submit my application.”

Lt. Commander Johnson is finishing her first year at the College of Law while also balancing active military service with the U.S. Navy. Johnson, who comes from a family with a military background, said next month will mark her eleventh year of service.

“I wanted to join (the Navy) because I have a family history of service,” Johnson said. “My aunt, dad and grandfather all served in the army, which makes me the first Navy member from my family.”

As she prepares to enter her second year of law school, Johnson said she is looking forward to the chance to work at the VLC, which is run by Executive Director Elizabeth Kubala.

“I’m part of the Military and Veterans Law Society, and I heard great things about the Veterans Law Clinic. It allows students to actively support veterans in their cases,” Johnson said. “Getting hands-on experience with that is so vital.”

Johnson said one of the most important skills she has come to master since joining the armed forces is time management, which she said she uses in both her life as a law student and mother to a fourth grader.

While Patterson and Johnson are the inaugural SU recipients of the Tully Rinckey Foundation military scholarships, the foundation plans to offer scholarships to other law schools throughout New York state next year, according to the release. The foundation hopes to create a “lasting impact” on the education of future lawyers involved with the military.

“Our firm believes our service extends beyond the courtroom and into the communities where we work,” Tully said in the release. “Tiffany and Andrew are leaders who will make an impact on the legal profession and our society.”

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