Cycle-breaker: Find out why Shyanne Blackburn chose to attend Utah Law

Jul 08, 2024 | Belonging & Access

by Lindsay Wilcox

Shyanne Blackburn, a young Navajo woman with long dark-brown hair wearing a dark red pant suit and heelsRising 2L Shyanne Blackburn grew up in a small rural town in south-central Utah. As a Navajo first-generation student, she was excited to recently receive the Flora Sombrero and Neeta Lind Diné Law Scholarship, a fund started by alum Jeffrey Fillerup and his wife, Neeta Lind, to help Diné students attend local colleges on or near the Diné Nation.

“I am thankful to be a recipient of the Flora Sombrero & Neeta Lind Diné Law Scholarship, which has allowed me to pursue my dreams of becoming a lawyer,” Blackburn said in a College of Law Instagram post. “I decided to pursue law school because I want to be a cycle breaker. Growing up with a single mother who didn’t have the opportunity to graduate high school, but worked tirelessly to ensure I could have a better future, continues to drive me to be a dedicated student and eventually the best lawyer I can be.”

Blackburn also noted that the scholarship has allowed her to focus on her studies and personal growth. She previously studied psychology at Utah Valley University before starting at Utah Law in 2023.

“I decided to come to pursue law school because I was intrigued by the intricate balance of justice, ethics, and advocacy in the legal system,” she says. “The ability to analyze complex problems and advocate for others deeply interests me.”

Attending the S.J. Quinney College of Law also allows Blackburn to stay in Utah—”it helps that it’s beautiful here,” she says—while earning her law degree.

“I wanted to attend a law school in my community because it allows me to stay close to my roots while giving back to the place that has shaped me,” she says. “I am committed to contributing to the growth and improvement of Utah.”

This commitment to the state has also impacted Blackburn’s choice for a field placement: She stayed within the Salt Lake City area to gain experience in between semesters.

“I am currently working as a summer law clerk at the Utah attorney general’s office in the white collar division,” Blackburn says. “I really enjoy being involved in large-scale issues that the state of Utah faces.”

Most proud of her improved legal writing skills, Blackburn will soon be starting her 2L year and has a new opportunity to look forward to.

“I made a personal goal that my spring semester memo would be better than my fall memo (it was), and I have recently accepted an offer to be a part of the Utah Law Review,” she expresses. “I really enjoy the small class sizes, because they offer a more personalized learning experience and closer interaction with the professors.”

Though Blackburn has yet to decide on a focus within law after graduation, she would love to pursue a judicial clerkship eventually.

“As a rising 2L I feel like there are still avenues of the law that I have yet to discover. I am still really open about what practice I would like to be a part of and have not yet settled on a field,” she says. “However, I love that the law has continuously expanded my world view!”

Want to support students like Shyanne Blackburn? Learn more about the Flora Sombrero and Neeta Lind Diné Law Scholarship and our other named scholarships and how you can contribute.