Several health law students have reason to celebrate this spring. Each year, Georgia State University recognizes “unsung heroes” who go the extra mile with the George M. Sparks Award. This year, Student Health Law Association co-president Zari Shah was honored for her service to the university and the community. With an interest in addressing housing stability and food access, Shah co-hosted the Legal Food Frenzy to raise money and food for the Atlanta Community Food Bank and organized a food locker for Georgia State Law students. She has also interned with Atlanta Volunteer Lawyers Foundation and Atlanta Legal Aid Society on housing cases.
At Georgia State Law’s Annual Honors Day Ceremony, Saskia Olczak (J.D./M.S.H.A. ‘22) received the 2022 Charity Scott Health Law Award for outstanding academic achievement in health law, demonstrated leadership, and commitment to the field. The award is named for founding director of the Center for Law, Health & Society, Charity Scott, who generously endowed the award. The award is administered by the Georgia Hospital Association. Olczak, who externed with MagMutual and serves as the vice president of membership for the Student Health Law Association, plans to practice with Goodman McGuffey, LLP, after graduation.
Also at the ceremony, Christian Goerner (J.D. ’22) received the Award for Excellence in the Study of Health Law for his performance in Health Law: Quality and Access, and Travis Williams (J.D./M.P.H. ’23) received this award for his performance in Health Law: Finance and Delivery. Williams also earned the HeLP Legal Services Award, along with Nicole DeLoach (J.D. ’22), for excellence in the delivery of legal services to low-income families served by the clinic. This award is sponsored by the Health Law Partnership (HeLP) Advisory Council.
Morgan Cronin (J.D./M.S.H.A. ’23) was elected Editor in Chief of the Georgia State Law Review for 2022-23. Matthew Sweat (J.D. ’23) wrote, “A Square Double Helix in a Round Hole: Forensic Genetic Genealogy Searches and the Fourth Amendment.” The article was selected as the best student note and will be published in the Georgia State Law Review. Sweat examines law enforcement’s controversial but effective use of DNA in genetic genealogy databases, such as GEDmatch.com, to solve cold cases. For 2021-22. Gregory Mercer (J.D. ’23)’s note, “First, Do No Harm: Prioritizing Patients Over Politics in the Battle Over Gender-Affirming Care,” was also selected for publication. Mercer argues that attempts to classify gender-affirming care as experimental, such as Arkansas’s Save Adolescents from Experimentation (SAFE) Act, violate the Constitution and Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act.
Originally written for professor Paul Lombardo’s Great Cases in Bioethics course, Kate Schiller (J.D. ’22) won first place in the American College of Legal Medicine’s 2022 Hirsh Award Writing Competition for her paper “Life After Brain Death.” In the paper, which will be published in the Journal of Legal Medicine, she makes a case for moving away from the concept of brain death as biologically incoherent and towards expanding the pool of patients legally eligible to donate organs.
“Our students are excelling in so many ways, both in and out of the classroom,” said Stacie Kershner, associate director of the Center for Law, Health & Society. “We couldn’t be prouder of their dedication and commitment to health law.”