From a young age, Jessica Childress (Col ’07, Law ’10) had a “profound appreciation for U.Va.” instilled in her—primarily by her mother, a Curry School alumna, and her grandfather, a former University employee. Thus, it is unsurprising that after seven years on Grounds, the now licensed attorney has found herself heeding a lesson learned early in her college career: taking ownership of one’s alma mater means assuming a leading role in its future.
“When you think of something as your own, you want to nourish it even after you leave,” Childress explained. “My experiences substantially enriched me as an individual and as a young professional. I hope my gift allows another student to have an equally rich experience.”
Childress knows many student groups (including the one to which she designated her gift) rely on donations to run efficiently and sponsor networking and leadership opportunities like those she valued so highly.
“It’s the aggregate of all our gifts that make a difference,” Childress said, adding that the vibrant commitment and impressive professional and personal records of graduates were keys to her decision to remain at U.Va. for law school. Now, she is quickly following in these traditions herself.
Childress recently wrapped up a yearlong federal clerkship with Judge Alexander Williams Jr. in the District of Maryland. Next up: a position in the litigation group (employment and labor law area) of Morrison & Foerster, a top-25 firm in the 2012 Vault Law 100 rankings. The firm is known for its deep pro bono commitment—an important aspect for Childress.
Although she cannot say exactly how her career will unfold, Childress plans to do all she can to improve access to effective legal representation. “I want to look back on my career and know that the work I did was impactful,” she said.