Mary Han (`85), a hard-working law student who established a reputation as one of the most diligent and determined lawyers in Albuquerque, died on Nov. 18, 2010 in her home. She was 53. During her 22-year association with law partner Paul Kennedy, she devoted herself to a broad practice that included civil rights, personal injury plaintiff and criminal defense cases.
The University of New Mexico School of Law also was the beneficiary of her success as she developed into one of Albuquerque’s most prominent lawyers. In 1995, Han established the Not-for-the-Top scholarship, which recognized the importance of hard work and determination, rather than academic achievement. In fact, the only law students who could qualify for the full-year, full-tuition scholarship could not be in the top third of their class.
“That was Mary Han,” said Peter Winograd, retired associate dean, who helped her set up the scholarship. “She figured people in the top third of their class would be fine. She was looking for students with hurdles to overcome, who demonstrated hard work, discipline and a sense of enthusiasm for the law.”
The needs-based scholarship made life easier for one student every year for the eight years of its duration. And they never knew who funded it. Han preferred to keep her generosity to herself and the donor was listed as anonymous.
“My guess is that she thought it was irrelevant that the scholarship came from her,” said Winograd. “She was more concerned that the scholarship would help a student through law school.”
Han was born in Seoul, South Korea, and grew up in Sri Lanka and Samoa, places her father worked as a physician with the United Nations World Health Organization.