Law student receives prestigious Harvard fellowship

April 25, 2014

Quinn DennehyEver since teaching special education and literacy to kids in New Orleans, 3L Quinn Dennehy has been dedicated to finding the right balance of education and legal know-how to make life better for children who "fall through the cracks" because they have trouble with the law.

This fall, equipped with a newly earned J.D. from Seattle University School of Law, Dennehy will begin a prestigious Zuckerman Fellowship at Harvard University, working toward a master's in education policy. The program is offered to only 15 people for the 2014-15 academic year.

Combined, his law degree and fellowship will allow him to pursue a meaningful career in educational reform. "Law is all about the nuts and bolts of how things work," he said. "With a good understanding of administrative law and the criminal justice system, you can implement good educational policies from a more sophisticated and nuanced perspective."

The Zuckerman Fellowship aims to "bring the perspectives of multiple professions and academic disciplines to bear on public sector problems." By providing the necessary training, it encourages bright, service-oriented professionals in the fields of law, medicine, and business to become leaders for the common good.

The program fosters communication and sharing ideas across various professions and academic disciplines. Fellows earn public service degrees at one of three institutions within Harvard — the Graduate School of Education, the School of Public Health, or the John F. Kennedy School of Government.

But in addition to their formal coursework, Zuckerman Fellows participate in small-group discussions with members of the Harvard faculty and other prominent thinkers, take personal and professional skill-building workshops, and go on a field trip together. These interdisciplinary activities help the Fellows integrate the classroom learning with their individual career plans and interests.

Dennehy, who said "I never thought I was going to get this," is most excited about the co-curricular aspect of the program and learning from other professionals who are committed to public service.

"By talking to each other, we can create real solutions to real problems," he said.

The Zuckerman Fellowship provides recipients with full tuition and health insurance fees plus a stipend of $16,000 for one year. Fellows are selected for their leadership abilities, intellectual and academic achievement, and commitment to public service.

While at law school, Dennehy has served as managing editor of the Seattle Journal for Social Justice, a member of the Moot Court Board, and a member of the advisory board for the Seattle University Youth Initiative. The 29-year-old hails from Butte, Montana, and did his undergraduate studies in sociology and theater arts at Loyola University in New Orleans.

He'll also be the student speaker at the May 2014 Commencement.

The fellowship program's founder, Mortimer B. Zuckerman, earned degrees in law and business, and then taught city and regional planning at both Harvard and Yale. He cofounded Boston Properties in 1970, one of the largest and most respected real estate investment trusts, and serves as chairman and editor-in-chief of U.S. News & World Report, and chairman and publisher of the New York Daily News.