Clarissa Cerda, General Counsel and Secretary, Pindrop Security
What led you to give to ASU Law?
Even though I had no formal ties to ASU, and I am an alumnus of other schools to whom I also donate, as a lawyer who practices in Arizona, I wanted to find a way to give back and support my local legal community. With ASU Law named after the first woman to serve on the Supreme Court and rated as one of the top 10 best public law schools in the country, it was an easy decision.
Why do you feel it is important to philanthropically support ASU Law?
I believe that law schools enrich and provide a wonderful resource to the community and cities in which they operate that go beyond the academic community itself. The business partnerships that are developed and the community relationships that are cultivated contribute to broader knowledge transfer, economic strength and the vibrancy of the entire geographic region.
What excites you the most about the future and our next generation of lawyers and legal sector leaders?
I endowed the Clarissa Cerda Legal Leaders Endowed Scholarship because I am committed to making the next generation of legal leaders as diverse as the world we live in. I believe the leaders of our legal institutions of tomorrow should bring with them a myriad of experiences and a diversity of perspectives to best shape our society and tackle future challenges. It is my hope that the recipients of this scholarship will dare to dream, be driven to succeed, and be courageous enough to change the world – in a way that acknowledges and appreciates the world’s diversity. I am excited because I am not just hoping it will happen, I am doing what I can to make it happen – and I have every confidence judging from the Clarissa Cerda Legal Leaders Endowed Scholarship recipients to date that they will in fact change the world for the better.
What advice do you have for our students as they embark on the next chapter of their lives?
Embrace each of life’s new chapters and see what opportunities the world has to offer at each step and what you can do with them. Law school is an exciting time, whether you are just starting or finally graduating. It can be a key phase of your professional formative years. You will: (i) learn things about yourself you didn’t know (how many all-nighters can you pull before you collapse?), (ii) learn new skills (how to apply analogous concepts across multiple contexts and disciplines), (iii) confirm your strengths (maybe it will be legal writing or oral arguments), and (iv) help you identify areas for improvement (like learning to manage high stress or improving effective communication).
Accordingly, you need to experience it all and learn as much as you can from it so that when life’s opportunities present themselves along your personal journey you are best equipped to chart the course you want for yourself in the future. And always, imagine the world as you want to see it, and do everything you can to challenge the status quo and change it for the better.
How can someone reading this article begin their own philanthropy pursuit at ASU Law?
Philanthropy is a personal thing, about what is meaningful and important to you. For me, it began decades ago when I had very little money and still found a way to make small donations that could be aggregated to be meaningful – to give back to financial aid scholarships that had helped me. For others it begins later or progresses with larger contributions, once you have achieved some financial success, to programs already established and in need of your help. And for a few, you decide you want to create something new like I did. For those of you in the early part of this journey – and still dipping your toes in the water – I would greatly appreciate it if you would consider a small donation or larger contribution to the Clarissa Cerda Legal Leaders Endowed Scholarship at ASU Law – every little bit helps! For those of you ready to dive into the deep end of the pool and establish your own endowed scholarship, I encourage you to contact Samantha Williams at Samantha.firstname.lastname@example.org.