Congratulations to the Class of 2023 Student Award Honorees

Hooding Ceremony


Ryan Demarest

Ryan Demarest was born and raised in Studio City, California before he moved to Waco, Texas to pursue a degree in Political Science at Baylor University. Prior to law school, Ryan worked as a ride operator at Universal Studios Hollywood. During his time at SMU, Ryan was a research assistant for Professors Anthony Colangelo and Hillel Bavli, and served as an Associate Managing Editor for SMU Law Review. He also participated in SMU Law’s Federal Judicial Externship Program, working for Judge Amos Mazzant. In addition, Ryan served as a judicial intern for Justice Leslie Osborne of The Court of Appeals for the Fifth District of Texas. After the bar exam, Ryan will clerk for the Honorable Jane J. Boyle, U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas. Following his clerkship, he will join Jones Day in Dallas.


John E. Kennedy Memorial scholarships are given in honor of Professor John Kennedy who served on the faculty with distinction for 20 years until his untimely death in 1989. Professor Kennedy was a beloved teacher and had a strong commitment to the law as a service profession.

The awards given in his memory are presented to the J.D. graduates who are deemed by their classmates to exemplify the spirit of service by working tirelessly to benefit the Law School community.

Anna Justice

Anna Justice served as the President of the Student Bar Association. She served as a Student Attorney in SMU Law’s Judge Elmo B. Hunter Center for Victims of Crimes Against Women, where she helped conduct a survey regarding the intersectionality of firearms and domestic violence. In the fall of her 3L year, she participated in the Corporate Counsel Externship Program where she worked with Coca-Cola Southwest Beverages. She also worked for the past two years as a Teaching Assistant for Professor Beverly Dureus’ Legal Writing, Research, and Advocacy Course. Throughout her law school career, she was active in SMU’s Women in Law organization, the Corporate Law Association, the Dallas Association of Young Lawyers, and the National Association of Women Lawyers. She is interested in working in transactional practice after taking the Bar exam.

Sammy Calkins

Sammy Calkins was President of the International Law Review. He has been very involved in Law Review throughout his time at SMU, serving as Staff Editor and then President. He competed in the Mack Kidd Administrative Law Moot Court Competition where he and his partner earned runner-up brief. During the summer of 2021, He worked as a legal intern with Dedman Law’s COVID-19 Legal Helpline, which offered North Texas residents the opportunity to secure free legal assistance with matters related to the COVID-19 pandemic, such as housing, immigration, and consumer protection. He worked as a student attorney in the First Amendment Clinic and served as Clinic Deputy this spring. He also served as a first-year student mentor through the Student Bar Association.


The Sarah McQuillen Tran award honors beloved faculty member Sarah Tran, whose selfless service and unyielding commitment to her students and her scholarship in the face of personal adversity represent the very best of our profession.

The award is presented to students who have demonstrated exceptional resilience and determination in overcoming personal challenges, while also making a significant contribution to the law school community through their acts of service. The recipients of this award embody the school’s values of perseverance, compassion, and service and serve as a shining example to their peers.

Michael Vuong

Michael Vuong has served as the President of the Asian Pacific American Law Student Association, Managing Editor for the International Law Review Association, Chief of Clinic for the SMU First Amendment Clinic, and a teaching assistant for Legal Research and Writing for LL.M. students. He was instrumental in the creation of the Jamie Shim Memorial Fund and the SMU Asian Pacific Islander Alumni Board. He also served on the University Honors Program Advisory Council and the SMU Asian American Pacific Islander Working Group. Over the past 3 years, he has served as a mentor to the international LL.M. students. Following graduation, he will clerk with The Honorable F. Michael Cruse, Chief Justice for the High Court of American Samoa.

Kevin S. Lee

Kevin Lee served as the student liaison for the Dallas Association of Young Lawyers. In that role, he served ex officio on the DAYL Board of Directors, was instrumental in sharing law student concerns with the board, and organized events for young lawyers and law students. He was also a member of the Corporate Law Association and Asian Pacific American Law Student Association. During law school, he interned with The Honorable Barbara Lynn, United States District Court for the Northern District of Texas. After graduation, he will work as an associate at Haynes and Boone, working in the business litigation department.

Congratulations to these SMU Dedman School of Law Graduates!