Bryan J. Teresi receives 2022 Founder’s Medal for First Honors

Bryan J. Teresi of San Diego, California, has won the Founder’s Medal signifying first honors in Vanderbilt Law School’s J.D. Class of 2022.

Class of 2022 Founder’s Medalist Bryan Teresi with Dean Chris Guthrie (r) and Chancellor Daniel Diermeier (l),

Teresi was one of 22 members of his class honored with academic, citizenship and journal awards at Commencement.

Vanderbilt honors Class of 2022 Founder’s Medalists

Teresi received the scholastic excellence award for the highest grade in Actual Innocence, Civil Procedure, Constitutional Law I, Contracts, Criminal Procedure: Adjudication, Legal Writing I and Torts. He also received the Lightfoot Franklin & White Best Brief Award, which recognizes the best writing completed in the first-year Legal Research & Writing class.

Teresi was a member of the 2020 Pro Bono Spring Break team that worked at the Mississippi Center for Justice in Jackson, Mississippi.

Teresi plans a career in criminal law. He worked as an intern with the Federal Public Defender for the Middle District of Tennessee during both summer and fall 2020, where his work involved writing appellate briefs and a sentencing memorandum and drafting petitions and appeals for compassionate release. He was an intern with the Maryland Office of the Public Defender in Charles County in summer 2021 and at the Office of the Post-Conviction Defender in spring 2022.

In fall 2020, he was a research assistant for Professor Nancy King on a project involving recommended standards for preserving the right to effective assistance of counsel during criminal proceedings when a defendant is physically separated from his attorney.

As a student in the Advanced Criminal Practice Clinic with Clinical Teaching Fellow Joshua Stanton this spring, he worked with a team of students defending a client indicted on serious felony charges. “I learned the importance of investigation, communication with the client, and dealing with bad facts,” he said.

Teresi especially appreciated his Actual Innocence class with Professor Terry Maroney. “Through this class, I learned about a variety of systemic and human failures that contribute to wrongful convictions, the suffering endured by those wrongfully convicted, the difficulty in undoing their convictions, and the grace and power in their testimonies following release,” he said. He also received an in-class award from Professor Maroney for including “the most puns” in his semester presentation.

Teresi credits his classmates with enabling him to navigate the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic and law school simultaneously. “I would like to express my gratitude towards fellow classmates for being there for me and each other throughout the pandemic,” Teresi said. “I am incredibly thankful for the community and close friendships I found at Vanderbilt. Gold stars do not shine in the dark, but good friends certainly do.”

He was proud to receive the Paper Plate Award for Best Zoom Background from his classmates and enjoyed ping-pong matches in the basement of the law school. “The best thing about Vanderbilt is the fun culture,” he said.

A native of San Diego, California, Teresi earned his B.A. in interdisciplinary humanities focusing on theology and creative writing, with a minor in classical studies, at the University of San Diego.