Barbara (Babs) Tsao ’23 and Irene Kwon ’23 are the recipients of this year’s Westfall Memorial Award, which recognizes a student or students with outstanding contributions to creating community within their first-year section and class. The award is named after the late Professor David Westfall ’50, who taught at Harvard Law School for more than 50 years and served as an inaugural faculty leader for a first-year section. As co-chairs of the Section 7 committee during their first year of law school, Tsao and Kwon were critical to the success of that first year, which was remote due to the coronavirus pandemic — and the two that followed, according to the award nominators.
“Irene and Babs spearheaded a variety of online activities for their far-flung classmates, helped facilitate communication between students and faculty about the online learning experience, wrote a regular newsletter that gathered resources for students, compiled a cookbook of students’ favorite recipes, and many, many other time-consuming and creative moves that resulted in a cohesive section community,” wrote a nominator.
Noting Kwon and Tsao’s countless contributions, nominators pointed to two in particular that had an important impact on the first-year experience of Section 7 and their classmates.
After it was announced that the spring 2021 semester would also be held remotely, Tsao and Kwon proactively designed a community conversation with students and faculty to come up with constructive suggestions on how to ensure a successful semester for everyone. “Students remarked afterward that they felt closer to one another and to us as a result of the event,” said a faculty nominator.
During the spring semester, Tsao and Kwon also “demonstrated extraordinary ingenuity” in organizing a fully remote version of the Rakoff Bake-Off, an annual tradition led by Todd D. Rakoff, Byrne Professor of Administrative Law.
“We assumed we would not be able to have the event on Zoom, but our section committee chairs would not give up,” wrote a nominator. “They designed a new structure, focusing on presentation and pun-based legal names for the desserts; invited alumni winners to come on Zoom to judge; and dressed up as figures from the Great British Bake-Off. Many students baked desserts, photographed them, and described their genesis in a hilarious and moving sequence of presentations.”
The winner, the nominator added, made “Lemon Zoom Bars,” designed to look like Zoom display screens.
“These efforts only begin to show [Kwon and Tsao’s] commitment to community-building,” concluded the nominators, adding that pair continued to lead the section committee and organize social events on campus the next year, and even helped shape subsequent Sections 7, with Kwon as a speaker during orientations, and Tsao as a member of the Board of Student Advisers.