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Sandra Varnado Scholarship

“I will always remember the relief I felt, knowing that I could continue with my education and simultaneously care for my child. The appreciation I have for how LSU Law accommodated and supported me in such a tough time is still very strong.”

  • Sandra Varnado, Class of 2006
Sandi Varnado teaching at Loyola University New Orleans College of Law.

Sandi Varnado teaching at Loyola University New Orleans College of Law.

Sandra “Sandi” Varnado was a “non-traditional” student during her time at LSU Law. Along with having had an established career as a high school teacher, she was also a single mother.

“It (law school) was what I had planned to do since 10th grade of high school,” Varnado recalled in a student profile from 2006. “I thought that my strengths would mesh with the qualifications of the legal word.”

She never gave up on her dream of attending law school. As a Mt. Hermon, LA native and attending LSU for her undergraduate degree, Varnado was a loyal LSU alumna and knew she wanted to return to the Paul M. Hebert Law Center.

She was pleasantly surprised by the quick bonds she formed with her section as a 1L and by the friendliness of the LSU Law faculty. Varnado recalls not only the camaraderie the faculty extended toward her but also the empathy and grace.

Varnado had just begun her final year of law school when Hurricane Katrina hit Louisiana. Once the state began the long recovery process from the devastating storm, LSU Law started classes. One additional hurdle Varnado had to face at the time: her son’s school did not open for another week.

“So, as I dragged my 7-year-old to all of my law school classes, none of my professors batted an eye.  In fact, they began to use him in their in-class hypotheticals, much to his delight,” Varnado said. “He is now 24 and still talks about his time with me there (although I cannot convince him to attend law school).”

Thanks to the supportive environment instituted at the Law Center, Varnado thrived as a student and mother. Varnado was a member of Louisiana Law Review and served as Articles Editor. She was the recipient of several awards from the Center for Computer-Assisted Legal Instruction (CALI), which presents a certificate to students achieving the top grade in each law school course. She was also a recipient of the Laverne Lewis Moss Scholarship. In 2006, Varnado graduated second in her class and as a member of the Order of the Coif.

After graduation, Varnado clerked at the United States Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit for Judge James L. Dennis for two years. She joined Baker, Donelson, Bearman, Caldwell & Berkowitz, P.C. where she practiced commercial litigation, focusing on employment law and construction law.

Varnado’s career came full circle when she joined the faculty of Loyola University New Orleans College of Law as the Kathryn Venturatos Lorio Professor of Law. In 2021, Loyola University New Orleans presented her with the Faculty Senate Award for Excellence in Teaching. Varnado credits her education at LSU Law for preparing her for her career in law and law education.

Sandi Varnado posing in front of a bookcase.

Sandi Varnado

“My experiences at LSU Law shaped me, in all of the important ways, as a lawyer and educator.  My legal education taught me, among the other countless lessons, the value of attention to detail, professionalism, and hard work; it also taught me to listen to and collaborate with others.  As a lawyer, this helped me to successfully advocate for and work with clients.  As a law professor, I hope I have passed these lessons on to the next generation of attorneys.”

Her experiences of simultaneously attending law school and being a single parent inspired Sandi to create the Sandra Varnado Scholarship

“I decided to create this scholarship to help other parents pursue their legal education.  I hope that my small contributions make their lives during a challenging time just a little easier.”

She also hopes her generosity will inspire students in their law school journey and allow them to have an exceptional law school experience like she did.

“I hope that they graduate with the same feelings of gratitude and fondness for LSU Law that I have.  I could not have asked for a better law school experience, and I hope future scholarship recipients have that, too.”


About the Scholarship:

To be awarded to a first-year student based on academic performance and need; preference to female with one or more minor children. The recipient shall retain the scholarship all three years, subject to remaining in good academic standing, as determined by the LSU Law Scholarship Committee.