Humans at SJQ: Meet the students, alumni, and faculty we’ve featured in 2023-2024

May 29, 2024 | Alumni

The S.J. Quinney College of Law has a wonderful community that includes a wide variety of people, each with their own story of what drew them to the legal field. Here are some of the amazing Humans at SJQ that we featured this year.


The Serassio women, including Serena, left, mother Julia, Helen, Carey, and Melanie.Remembering Carey Serassio Seager: Sisters recall years at Utah Law together

Four sisters never planned to attend the same law school. But as luck would have it, it happened anyway. The Serassio sisters include Melanie (’98), Helen (’00), Carey (’02) and Serena (’07), each with a unique story as to how they ended up at Utah Law.

“There was no pressure to become an attorney. Our mom was interested in law school, but never attended. It must have rubbed off in-utero. Education was important, and our parents gave us the tools to do well in school,” says Melanie, the oldest of 11 children (eight girls and three boys).

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Great Salt Lake Commissioner Brian Steed, a young white man with short blonde hair wearing a plaid shirtMaking waves: Utah Law professors and alum Brian Steed partner to save the Great Salt Lake

“Law students are unique because they are incredibly smart but also incredibly driven. There is an applied focus when it comes to law students on action items. They ask, ‘what can we do? How can we help?’ I love that about meeting with students here,” Steed said.

Initially drawn to environmental law after completing his master’s thesis at Utah State University about environmental policy in Costa Rica, Steed is a natural resources expert. He previously served as deputy director of policy and programs of the Bureau of Land Management in Washington, D.C., and as executive director of the Utah Department of Natural Resources. Steed also serves as executive director of the Janet Quinney Lawson Institute for Land, Water and Air at Utah State University in addition to his role as Great Salt Lake commissioner.

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Bethany Hardwig, a black woman with straight, dark-brown hair wearing an emerald-green silk dressGrow as you go: Bethany Hardwig expresses gratitude for MLS program

Bethany Hardwig was working in the University of Utah’s University Advancement office and began looking into graduate programs. A webinar about the Master of Legal Studies (MLS) program piqued her interest, and she later decided an MLS degree was exactly what she was looking for.

“I never wanted to be a courtroom lawyer, simply to be even more qualified to do the jobs I was interested in,” Hardwig recalls. “The MLS was clearly going to provide me with all of those things: contract law, conflict and legal crisis management, mediation, legal writing, business and intellectual property, property law and more.”

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Vince Mancini, a young man with dark brown hair and olive skin wearing a white shirt and dark blue suit jacketHelping consumers make cents of finance law: Meet honors attorney Vince Mancini

Vince Mancini’s goal when he started at Utah Law in 2020 was finding a legal job in the public interest sector—and when he graduated in 2023, his years of focus within this specialty paid off. In August, Mancini was hired as an honors attorney with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, a federal agency that ensures fairness within consumer financial markets.

“Throughout my time in law school, I proactively worked with alumni, professors, and organizations dedicated to consumer-facing public interest law. I registered for relevant classes, led a student organization focused on social justice and consumer protection, and completed internships to gain hands-on experience in the field,” Mancini recalls. “This approach allowed me to build a strong resume that caught the attention of the CFPB, ultimately making me a fit candidate for their honors program.”

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Paulina Barboza, a young woman with long brown hair and white skin wearing a brown blouse and dark blazerHonoring a single mother’s sacrifice: Kroesche family expands scholarship program to Utah Law

“When my mother was accepted to the law school, there were no financial or other support systems in place,” Tom Kroesche recalls. “Her education (which began at the time she became a single parent), and the education of her children, all of whom became attorneys, was financed by working, student loans and refinancing her home three times.”

Kroesche, a 1982 Utah Law alum, also received his bachelor’s degree in German in 1976 and his MBA in 1982 from the University of Utah. He wants students and alumni to remember Beatrice’s adaptability, survival, perseverance, kindness, patience, and stubbornness.

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Hannah Bruce, a young black woman with straight brown hair, sits on a bench under an awning outside a stadium holding a soccer ball in her handsGuiding changes to public health services: Meet Arc Fellow Hannah Bruce

Hannah Bruce, a Nova Scotia native, originally moved to Utah to play Division 1 soccer at Utah Valley University in 2016 — a move that launched several other opportunities around the globe.

“After graduating in 2019, I played professional soccer in Puerto Rico and then moved to England, where I completed a master’s degree in clinical and therapeutic neuroscience at the University of Oxford in 2021,” Bruce recalls. “Prior to commencing law school at the S.J. Quinney College of Law, I was a senior research specialist at the Boston University Alzheimer’s Disease and CTE Centers, where I worked with clinical research participants as a trained psychometrician.”

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Raveena Ghag, a Middle-Eastern woman with black hair and olive skin sits at a table with an iced coffee and her laptopAchieving a mindset shift: Meet MLS student Raveena Ghag

Raveena Ghag’s bachelor’s degree in communication gave her a foundation in writing and passion for creating social media content—and the Master’s in Legal Studies degree she’ll earn next year will put her one step closer to law school and a career as an attorney.

“I decided to pursue a master’s in legal studies to use as a stepping stone to help me further my career goals. I believe this master’s degree will aid me in my next step of my educational journey, a JD,” she says. “This degree will give me the background knowledge in the legal world that I did not already have before beginning this journey.”

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Spring to D.C.: Sam Snell shares experiences living in the nation’s capital for a semester

For the past few months, Snell has made Washington, D.C., his home as part of the new Spring to D.C. program, a partnership between the S.J. Quinney College of Law and the Hinckley Institute of Politics that allows 2Ls and 3Ls to spend a spring semester living and working in the U.S. capital. Snell has been working at the National Immigration Forum, an immigrant advocacy nonprofit group that advances immigration, refugees, and funding to foreign nations.

“I’ve really enjoyed the opportunity this Spring to D.C. program has given me to become acquainted with amazing individuals working to make the U.S. immigration system better. I’ve been really impressed with their competence and genuine interest in making a positive difference in the world,” Snell says. “I think D.C. is full of people who have high ideals and want to make the world a better place (obviously, there is a lot of bureaucracy and politics as well), so it’s amazing to be here for that purpose.”

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Associate Professor Daniel Aaron, a young man with olive skin and dark brown hair and a beard wearing a navy blazer and navy and fuchsia floral shirtAssociate Professor Daniel Aaron centers research on how law shapes life and death

Associate Professor Daniel Aaron, who teaches tort and health law, joined the S.J. Quinney College of Law in fall 2023. His interests center on the intersection between law and medicine, which stem from his educational background. Aaron had initially planned to become a doctor and earned his MD from the Boston University Chobanian & Avedisian School of Medicine.

“I quickly realized that most patients were there due to systemic problems: obesity, diabetes, addiction, smoking, and the like. Many doctors were frustrated by the social failures that were bringing patients into the clinic,” Aaron recalls. “I wondered if law might be contributing to modern disease. That’s when I decided to attend law school.”

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Professor Teneille Brown, a white woman with long, light-brown hairAssociate Dean and LABS Director Teneille Brown shares passion for researching and expanding student opportunities

Teneille Brown, associate dean for research and faculty development and the director of the Center for Law and Biomedical Sciences (LABS), recalls first becoming interested in healthcare law when she was seven and her sister had several open-heart surgeries for a congenital heart defect.

“I remember that her cardiologist recommended that our family ‘get a lawyer’ in case she needed to be listed for an organ donation. Thankfully, she did not, and she is thriving. But that suggestion was wild to my little brain. How could a lawyer assist this medical situation?” Brown says. “I’ve been fascinated by the role of law, regulation and advocacy in healthcare ever since.”

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Associate professor Erick Sam, a man with dark-brown hair and dark brown eyes and olive skin wearing a charcoal suit jacketSigning on the dotted line: Meet Associate Professor Erick Sam

With a background in tax law and contracts, it’s only fitting that Associate Professor Erick Sam has now signed on the dotted line for a position at Utah Law.

I come to S.J. Quinney by way of New York University, where I was a fellow in the law school and visiting scholar in the philosophy department. I received my PhD in philosophy from Duke University, my JD from Yale Law School, and graduated Phi Beta Kappa and magna cum laude in philosophy and in economics from Brown University,” Sam says. “After law school, I cut my teeth practicing as a tax attorney in the New York office of the law firm Sullivan & Cromwell.”

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Check out video spotlights of our students and faculty as well on our YouTube channel.