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Frost Brown Todd (FBT) Zenobia Harris Bivens Diversity Scholarship

The FBT Zenobia Harris Bivens Diversity Scholarship supports deserving students in their education and exploration of the law. Established in 2010 as the FBT Diversity Scholarship Fund, the scholarship was renamed in 2022 to honor our late colleague Zenobia, who was a tireless advocate for the many people and causes she championed during her lifetime. To date, our firm has awarded over $80,000 in scholarships to more than 30 students for demonstrating academic excellence, service to the profession, service to the community, and a commitment to diversity.

Wenxi Lu | Indiana University Maurer School of Law

Wenxi Lu graduated from the Indiana University Maurer School of Law (IU Maurer) in May and will begin her legal career with Frost Brown Todd as a first-year associate, having previously been part of the firm’s 2023 class of summer associates. Born and raised in China, Lu came to the United States for college and graduated with high distinction from the University of Michigan, earning a bachelor’s in psychology.

In her application, Lu wrote about finding inspiration and empowerment in the performing arts. At the age of 10, she joined an Yueju opera troupe that consisted predominantly of young women. They focused on telling stories from women’s perspectives, with women often playing male roles, and Lu realized that the “opera was more than just escape—it was countercultural, openly challenging many of the norms that had a stranglehold on [her] life” as someone who identified as LGBTQ+.

That progressive spirit of the opera is something Lu has intentionally tried to carry forward through her activist work, both in her native China and during her time as a law student at IU Mauer. She served as the 2L and 3L Director of the LGBTQ+ Project and as student liaison to the American Bar Association’s Commission on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity. She co-founded a nonprofit called We Can See It to combat gender-based violence. She has also helped organize diversity trainings and social activist panels and mentored LGBTQ+ students with intersectional identities.

Lu’s list of academic and professional accomplishments is likewise impressive. She was a Dean’s Writing Fellow and the executive submissions editor for the Indiana Journal of Global Legal Studies. She interned with the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana and National LGBTQ+ Bar Association, in addition to working as a judicial extern at the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of Indiana and for Chief Justice Loretta Rush of the Indiana Supreme Court.

Lu’s commitment to effecting positive social change has not gone unnoticed. She was the recipient of the Student Leadership in Fostering Community and Inclusiveness Award and the Pro Bono Publico Award. The National LGBTQ+ Bar Association also recognized Lu with its Student Leadership Award in 2023, noting her extensive work, as both an organizer and advocate, to advance LGBTQ+ inclusion and equality.

In its profile of Lu, the National LGBTQ+ Bar Association described her as someone who is “passionate about increasing the visibility of people with multiple marginalized identities” and “connecting the American LGBTQ+ community with LGBTQ+ communities worldwide.”

Grace Zuo | Southern Methodist University Dedman School of Law

Grace Zuo is a rising second-year law student at the Southern Methodist University Dedman School of Law (SMU Deadman), where she is a Dean’s Scholar, Bennett Scholar, and DEI director of the Asian Pacific American Law Students Association. Born in rural China, she started working at a young age to earn her own tuition money from middle school through university.

With this money and academic scholarships, Zuo became one of the first people from her hometown to graduate from college. She earned a bachelor’s in law from Tianjin Foreign Studies University, followed by a Master of Laws degree from the University of International Business and Economics School of Law in Beijing, China. These were noteworthy achievements in a country where, as Zuo reports, the dropout rate for Chinese girls remains twice that of boys.

As a student in China, Zuo provided pro bono representation in family law matters to victims of domestic violence and child abuse. Inspired by her own experiences, she also founded a legal aid association to provide free legal services to migrant workers in rural and marginalized communities. In 2018, she passed the Chinese bar examination and worked as an associate at a law firm and as in-house counsel at a financial services company. Even though Zuo was gainfully employed and enjoying a degree of stability that had eluded her growing up, she was determined to do more. “I began to wonder how the law I practiced, often twisted into an instrument of oppression, could be better used to liberate,” Zuo wrote in her scholarship application. “I developed a desire to learn more about the American legal system, famous for its protection of individual freedoms…. Just like when I was fourteen, I gathered some tuition money, packed my bags, and left to pursue an education [in the United States].”

Zuo recently completed her first year at SMU Dedman and is on track to graduate in 2026. The social media account she started to share her story (along with resources and study tips meant to help other students) now has more than 10,000 followers. After law school, Zuo’s long-term plan is to establish and operate a foundation in China and the U.S. that provides funding and services to support minority women in higher education, particularly in the field of law.

The Scholarship’s Namesake

Zenobia Harris Bivens (1981-2022)

Zenobia Harris Bivens was an accomplished lawyer who championed diversity and inclusion in the legal profession. In the early parts of her career, Zenobia clerked for the Honorable Carl E. Stewart of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit and the Honorable Justice Dale Wainwright (ret.) of the Texas Supreme Court. As a more seasoned attorney, Zenobia served as counsel in cases involving NASA, the Department of Defense, and the Department of Housing and Urban Development, among many others. Zenobia’s cases were featured in Forbes, The New York Times, and The Houston Chronicle. Zenobia also successfully argued a case before the U.S. Supreme Court.

Zenobia served as a mentor and friend to several attorneys and business professionals. She worked tirelessly to advance the careers of the professionals who she was entrusted to lead. Zenobia was also relentless in her pursuit for justice, and this was evident in her pro bono advocacy work as she was particularly passionate about helping those who had been denied justice by the legal system.

The FBT Zenobia Harris Bivens Diversity Scholarship program seeks to continue Zenobia’s commitment to excellence by giving future attorneys the opportunity to pursue legal careers and make positive impacts on their clients, colleagues and communities. Zenobia’s commitment to excellence will live on through the scholarship recipients who apply their unique commitments to excellence in their respective legal careers.

Submission Criteria & Process

The FBT Zenobia Harris Bivens Diversity Scholarship program is meant to promote, in a tangible way, the principles set forth in our firm’s Diversity & Inclusion Vision Statement. Building a pipeline of diverse attorneys is vital to the future of our firm and our profession, and this scholarship program is one component of our broader pipeline work.

Scholarships are open to all underrepresented students, including but not limited to African American, Hispanic or Latinx, Asian, Native American, Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander, multi-racial, and LGBTQ+ students. All female students are also eligible, regardless of race or ethnicity. Any other students who come from backgrounds that would add to the cause of diversity, regardless of race or gender, are eligible to apply.

To qualify for this scholarship, a candidate must be a law student at an ABA-accredited law school or an undergraduate student who intends to pursue law school after graduation.

Scholarships will be awarded to applicants who best meet the following criteria:

  • Demonstrated academic excellence
  • Service to the profession
  • Service to the community
  • Commitment to diversity

Scholarship applications are typically sent to schools within our footprint in the Spring Semester. Any students who wish to apply should contact Diversity Scholarship Committee Member Justin Fowles.

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