August 13, 2008 — Daniel Young, a 2007 politics and history graduate of the University of Virginia, has received a Jack Kent Cooke Scholarship.
Young, 23, who graduated with high honors in the Honors Politics program, has been working as a paralegal at the Department of Justice in Washington, D.C. He will pursue a joint degree in law, from the Yale Law School, and public policy, from the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. The Cooke Scholarship pays up to $50,000 a year for six years.
"It is an extraordinary privilege to be a Jack Kent Cooke Foundation scholar," Young said. "When I got the phone call, I was in shock."
Young was inspired to pursue a dual degree in part by meeting a White House staff member with a joint law and master's of public policy degree from Harvard. The joint degree will also make him more competitive for top-level public service jobs.
"It's extremely unusual to go to Yale law and the Kennedy School of Government for a combined degree," said John Echeverri-Gent, Young's U.Va. adviser in the politics degree. "Daniel is the only person in the past six years to graduate with highest honors from the honors politics program. He was an extraordinary student whose work was of the highest standards and went beyond the classroom," said Echeverri-Gent, an associate professor in the Woodrow Wilson Department of Politics.
A Virginia Beach native, Young credited his father's career as a police officer and his own participation in a Virginia Beach Mayor's Youth Council, plus serving as the inaugural president of Youth Leaders in Action, with spurring him to his academic success.
"These experiences made me feel from a young age that government can be a place where dedicated individuals come together in service of a cause larger than themselves," Young said.
He said he would like to work for the Department of Justice as assistant U.S. attorney in the criminal or civil rights division. He is also considering running for office.
"I want to have a modest influence on public policy," he said.
"He will be heavily recruited by top law firms and government agencies," predicted Larry Sabato, director of the Center for Politics, for whom Young worked as a researcher.
"This is the latest in a long string of awards for Daniel," Sabato said. "He's just as bright as they come. He will make U.Va. proud."
Young was a Jefferson Scholar, an Echols Scholar, a Lawn resident and technology consultant for the Student Activities Center, where he redesigned the system used to distribute funds to student groups. He was inducted into the Raven Society and Phi Beta Kappa and received the Anne Marye Owen prize for best student in Greek.
He was a member of the University's mock trial team, receiving three all-American attorney awards and 12 outstanding attorney awards for mock trial competitions. He was team captain when U.Va.'s squad beat Harvard for the second consecutive year for the Mock Trial National Championship. U.Va. is only the fourth school in the 23-year history of Collegiate Mock Trial to win back-to-back national titles.
"He showed great leadership on that team," Echeverri-Gent said. "He one of the most unassuming and congenial students and a pleasure to be with."
"The Jack Kent Cooke Graduate Scholarship is extraordinarily generous and extremely competitive," said Lucy Russell, director of U.Va.'s Center for Undergraduate Excellence. "I am so pleased that Daniel has been recognized with this honor. Not only did he shine academically, but he also made a lasting contribution through his work with the mock trial team. He is an outstanding representative of the University."
The Jack Kent Cooke Foundation is a private, independent foundation helping young people through education. Established in 2000 by the estate of billionaire Jack Kent Cooke, the foundation focuses on high-achieving, lower-income students from middle school through graduate school. Headquartered in Northern Virginia, the foundation has helped thousands of students nationally through individualized direct service programs, generous scholarships and grants to nonprofit organizations and educational institutions. With an endowment of $700 million, the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation (www.jkcf.org) is one of the 100 largest private foundations in the U.S.