Enrolling at Mitchell, Cecilia Knapp ’13 expected to accomplish many things, but her main goal was to graduate a truly well-rounded lawyer. After her first semester, when she experienced the disappointment that many new law school students have upon receiving their grades, Knapp saw an opportunity. With her unshakable optimism, improving those grades became another challenge on her law school bucket list. In that spirit, she finished her Mitchell career with not only over eighty hours of service with the Minnesota Justice Foundation, but also as a regular on the Dean’s List and as the recipient of the January 2013 Student Award of Merit.
Knapp plans on working in the field of Federal Indian law, building on experience and knowledge she gained through Mitchell’s Indian Law program. Mentoring by program co-directors Colette Routel and Sarah Deer and other Mitchell faculty enabled her to excel in the classroom and give back to the community while in law school. For example, Knapp was heavily involved with Mitchell’s Native American Law Student Association (NALSA), serving as treasurer, organizing fundraisers, and working in outreach programs, including helping out at First Nations’ Kitchen, serving traditional indigenous meals to people who can’t always afford to eat, and volunteering at a legal clinic at the Minnesota Indian Women’s Resource Center. Last year, at the National NALSA moot court competition in Honolulu, Knapp became the first Mitchell student to receive an oralist award in the 20-year history of the competition, taking third place out of over 100 competitors.
Receiving this award is a humbling honor. It is also a motivating one, knowing that I have the support of the college, the professors who nominated me, and the Alumni Board while pursuing post-law school endeavors.
Knapp finished her law school career on a high note. And she wouldn’t trade her Mitchell education for anything:
“Attending Mitchell is one of the best investments I’ve made for myself,” she says. “Mitchell’s strong Indian Law program exposed me to an area of law that initially I knew little about but ended up finding immensely rewarding, both academically and professionally. I’m so thankful for the college’s emphasis on gaining real world experience, which pushed me to engage in new pursuits that were personally fulfilling and allowed for meaningful contributions to local communities.”
Knapp’s professors have no doubt she’ll continue that meaningful work. “I get the feeling she will be one of those alumni we’ll brag about one day, because she sets very high standards for her own success and then quietly, persistently works until she meets or exceeds them,” says Professor Mark Edwards. “In my classes, she has set the standard for hard work and dedication.” Professor Greg Duhl adds, “Cecilia will make her mark practicing Federal Indian law just as she made her mark at Mitchell. She exemplifies what lawyers, and people, should be.”