Students Win 4th Annual Skye Donald Spirit of Community Award

May 11, 2021
UCLA Law students Menna Elsayed and Karina Silva
Menna Elsayed ’22 (left) and Karina Silva ’22 won the 2020-21 Skye Donald Spirit of Community Award.

Menna Elsayed ’22 and Karina Silva ’22 have won the 2020-21 Skye Donald Spirit of Community Award, the highest recognition for student service to UCLA School of Law.

Honorees demonstrate integrity, generosity, and a focus on the well-being of the law school community. Both 2Ls, Elsayed and Silva earned the award after receiving multiple nominations from their classmates and law school staff and faculty members. A faculty committee reviewed the nominations and selected the winners. In addition to the recognition, Elsayed and Silva receive scholarship funds to support their legal education.

Elsayed is a student in the Epstein Program in Public Interest Law and Policy and the Critical Race Studies program, and her work shows a broad commitment to service. She is co-chair of the student-run El Centro Legal Reentry Clinic, chief articles editor of the Journal of Islamic and Near Eastern Law, a member of the Middle Eastern and North African Law Students Association, and a legal research and writing advisor. She holds a B.A. from Columbia University.

In nominating her for the Skye Donald Award, her peers noted her positive spirit, warmth, sense of humor, and concrete expressions of caring for her fellow students, including her creation of networks of support for first-generation law students and students of color.

“This past year has been harrowing, and one of the few silver linings has been staying in touch with my friends from UCLA Law and welcoming new members into our community,” Elsayed says. “It has been a pleasure working with other students, faculty, and administrators to reimagine how students are graded, in the hope that our law school environment will become even more inclusive, collaborative, and innovative.”

Silva’s record demonstrates a similar dedication to service to the UCLA Law community across a wide array of organizations and initiatives. She is co-chair of the Criminal Justice Society, treasurer of the Latinx Law Students Association, a staff member of the Disability Law Journal, a participant in the Womxn of Color Collective, and a mentor with the Law Fellows Program. She earned her B.A., cum laude, from UC Irvine.

Silva’s peers nominated her for the award by citing her kindness and ability to motivate her friends and classmates during dark moments, noting that she comes to each task with understated selflessness and remarkable integrity.

“Law school can be such a challenging and intimidating place for many,” Silva says. “As a first-generation Mexican American, I was determined to make law school more welcoming for people from different backgrounds and walks of life. I hope I have contributed to this goal through my daily interactions with my peers, involvement in the Latinx Law Students Association, and as a mentor to incoming applicants.”

The Skye Donald Spirit of Community Award honors the memory of UCLA Law lecturer Skye Donald, a beloved teacher and talented lawyer who brought out the best in her students and colleagues before she died of cancer in 2016 at age 43. The award and associated Skye Donald Memorial Fund foster continued collegiality, compassion, and service in order to enhance the UCLA Law experience for award recipients and the entire community.

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