The incoming 2014 law school students taking the William S. Richardson School of Law student pledge in the Supreme Court building.

The incoming 2014 law school students taking the William S. Richardson School of Law student pledge in the Supreme Court building.

Retired Hawaiʻi Supreme Court Associate Justice Simeon Acoba Jr. and his wife, Carolyn C. Acoba, recently endowed a new scholarship at the William S. Richardson School of Law at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa. The scholarship will go toward tuition payments at the law school, with a preference each year for a student from a public high school.

“Judge Simeon Acoba and his wife Carolyn Acoba’s generous gift to the William S. Richardson School of Law is especially meaningful because it comes from University of Hawaiʻi alumni who have gone on to highly successful careers and leadership roles in our community,” said UH System President David Lassner. “Most recently, Judge Acoba was selected to serve on the UH Board of Regents. The Acobas are paying it forward by investing in UH and our students who might not otherwise have the means to attend law school and realize their dreams. We are immensely grateful.”

The Acobas’ gift is designed to help those who otherwise might find it difficult to pursue their dreams. Both Acobas are products of public school education and they recognize how much tuition assistance can make a significant difference.

Said Chancellor Robert Bley-Vroman, “We are deeply grateful to UH Mānoa graduates who give back to their alma mater. The Acobas are shining examples of alumni with roots in public schools who, in turn, are helping to realize the dreams of public high school graduates seeking the pursuit of legal studies at our fine law school.”

“The Acobas have long stood out as leaders in the pursuit of justice through both law and education and thus their gift’s commitment to future generations is wonderfully fitting as well as tremendously helpful to those who otherwise might well not be able to afford to go to law school,” said law school Dean Avi Soifer.

More on the Acobas

As a Farrington High School graduate, Judge Acoba was the first in his family to go to college. “I attended the University of Hawaiʻi on a scholarship,” he said, “and that really helped a great deal.”

Associate Justice Acoba retired last year from the Hawaiʻi Supreme Court, having served since May 2000. He received his BA degree from UH Mānoa with honors and his JD degree from the Northwestern University School of Law. After law school, he clerked for the late Chief Justice William S. Richardson and he was admitted to practice in the federal and Hawaiʻi courts in 1969.

“In our democracy which is guided by the rule of law,” said Acoba, “it is essential that a continuing rational and critical assessment be made of our laws to further the goal of fair and equal treatment for all. The law school stands as an independent and progressive institution dedicated to these purposes.”

Carolyn Acoba is a Roosevelt High School graduate and a UH undergraduate who earned a degree in linguistics from the University of California-Berkeley, and later a teaching degree from the UH Mānoa College of Education. She spent her professional career as an elementary school teacher in ʻĀina Haina and Niu Valley before retiring in 2007. She was often assigned to teach classes of gifted and talented children.

“A lot of very talented children come through the program and we know the background of their families. For immigrant families especially, it’s that much more challenging (to pay for advanced degrees),” she said.

Read the University of Hawaiʻi Foundation news release for more information.

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