Campus News

L.E.A.D. students reveal selected law schools during National Law School Signing Day, receive over $1 million in scholarships

Flanked by Adria Kimbrough, Esq. (l.) and Dante Butler, Esq. (r.), (pictured l. to r.) Chad Fuselier ’22, Renee Simien ’22, Amaya Sweeney ’22, Erica Wise from the City of New Orleans, LaJeanne Shelton ‘22, Amaya Ronczyk ‘22, Taylor Ponds ’22 and Holly Neely ‘21. Photo: Sabree Hill/Dillard University.

April 6, 2022
Contact: Danielle Miller,

NEW ORLEANS — Students in Dillard’s Legal Education Advancing Diversity program (L.E.A.D.) revealed their selected law school during National Law School Signing Day on Wednesday, April 6 at 11 a.m. in the Harold and Rhea Lucien Pavilion located in the Professional Schools Building. The event featured keynote speaker Traci Mundy Jenkins, president of the National Association for Law Placement. The event was streamed on Dillard Live.

Seven students from the L.E.A.D. program participated in National Law School Signing Day — Chad Fuselier ‘22, Holly Neely ‘21, Taylor Ponds ‘22, Amaya Ronczyk ‘22, LaJeanne Shelton ‘22, Renee Simien ‘22 and Amaya Sweeney ‘22. The students received over $1 million in scholarships from various institutions. 

Fuselier is an accounting major from Lafayette, Louisiana. He is the president of the Beta Phi chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc., president of the Daniel C. Thompson/Samuel DuBois Cook Honors Program and captain of Dillard’s nationally ranked Honda Campus All-Star Challenge Team. Fuselier revealed that he will attend the University of Florida Fredric G. Levin College of Law to become a tax attorney.

Neely is a New Orleans native and graduate of Dillard and Delgado Community College. She joined Dillard through the University’s Evening and Weekends Studies Program. Neely was acknowledged by the Thompson/Cook Honors Program for her high achievements in academic performance. Neely revealed that she will attend Loyola University New Orleans College of Law.

Ponds, an Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, native, majors in criminal justice with a minor in urban studies and public policy. Ponds is a member of the President’s Organization of Dillard’s Up-and-coming Superstars (PODUS),  the Dillard University Mock Trial Team, the Thompson/Cook Honors Program, Alpha Chi National Honor Society, the Kappa Mu National Honor Society and the National Association of Blacks in Criminal Justice. Ponds also interns with the Louisiana Center for Children’s Rights and Southeast Louisiana legal Services. Ponds revealed that she will attend William H. Bowen School of Law at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock. 

Ronczyk is an urban studies and public policy major from Miami, Florida. She currently serves as the president of the mock trial team. As an urban studies and public policy major, she has conducted research on environmental racism, climate gentrification, juvenile recidivism and mass shootings. Ronczyk has also served as a government affairs intern and Next Generation Leadership fellow for In Our Own Voice: National Black Women’s Reproductive Justice Agenda, where she tracked reproductive justice and voting rights legislation and created programming for Black women on campus. Ronczyk is still giving consideration to Georgetown University Law Center and Harvard Law School.

Shelton was born and raised in San Francisco, California. She is a psychology major with a minor in political science. Shelton is a member of:  the mock trial team, Pi Sigma Alpha, the National Political Science Honor Society, Omicron Delta Kappa honor society, Psi Chi national honor society for psychology and the Melton Foundation. Shelton revealed that she will attend the University of California, Hastings College of the Law in San Francisco, California, to focus on either international and comparative law or public interest law. 

Simien is a political science major from Lake Charles, Louisiana. She was the 2018-2019 University President’s Student Ambassador Team Member of the year; in 2019 she was honored as an InspiHER Leadership Award Nominee which recognizes top women student leaders; in her sophomore year she won the 2020 Learning Commons 2nd Year Essay Competition sponsored by Dillard’s Center for Racial Justice; and she served as Miss Residential Life (2019-2020). Her love for law has been sharpened by her participation in the mock trial team. Simien revealed that she will attend Southern University Law Center in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, to become a children’s advocacy attorney. 

Sweeney is a political science major from Ida, Louisiana, and is Dillard’s former Miss Black and Gold.  She currently serves as senior class senator and is the reigning Miss Black Louisiana USA. She will be representing the state at the Miss Black USA pageant in August. Sweeney plans to practice government and international relations law at her selected law school, Tulane University School of Law. 

During the event, the group was presented with a proclamation from the New Orleans City Council for their outstanding work in the L.E.A.D. program. Keynote speaker Jenkins shared with the group five keys for success:

-Remember the drive and determination that have gotten you to this point
-Take advantage of your resources
-Remain open and flexible and curious
-Constantly self assess and reassess to make sure your actions and focus is aligned with what you want to do
-Take care of yourself – you can’t be of true value to others if you don’t take care of yourself first 

Through the support of Dillard’s L.E.A.D. program, pre-law students receive the preparation they need to join the legal profession. The program is designed to help students gain admission to law school which is one of the most challenging steps in joining the legal profession, especially for students of color. The program is also open to students from Xavier University of Louisiana and Southern University at New Orleans. The program consists of a 10-week LSAT Prep Book Camp, a year-long mentorship program with attorneys and judges in the community, law school application assistance and individual advising. These resources not only assist students with gaining admission to law schools but they also provide them with lasting support.


Dillard University is a historically Black institution that cultivates leaders who live ethically, think and communicate precisely, and act courageously to make the world a better place. Located in New Orleans, Dillard is a private faith-based liberal arts university that offers 22 majors and two certificate programs. Founded in 1869, Dillard is Louisiana’s oldest HBCU, born from the union of Straight College and New Orleans University. Find out more by visiting