Walsh’s Barrett Fellowship award was announced by Vanderbilt Law Dean Chris Guthrie. “Nathan presented an outstanding project plan for his work with Disability Rights Tennessee, and I look forward to the contributions he will make to that organization,” Guthrie said. “I’m also deeply grateful Vanderbilt can offer fellowships that extend the resources of public advocacy organizations and help our graduates seeking to practice in the public interest launch their careers.”
The George Barrett Social Justice Fellowship is an initiative of the George Barrett Social Justice Program, which was recently endowed by Darren Robbins ’93 in honor of his friend and mentor, civil rights attorney George Barrett ’57, following Barrett’s death in 2014. In addition to supporting two George Barrett Social Justice Fellows each year, the endowed program also supports students pursuing summer public interest work, as well as an annual lecture.
As an intern with Disability Rights Tennessee, Walsh dealt with cases when school systems either failed to provide individualized education programs for students with disabilities or provided inadequate plans. “Disability Rights Tennessee has a small staff of five attorneys to serve the entire state,” he said. “I’m grateful to Vanderbilt Law and the Barrett Fellowship program for allowing me to serve as a much-needed additional staff attorney for a year.”
“Individuals with disabilities in Tennessee face significant obstacles at every step along the way in accessing educational and employment opportunities to which they are entitled by law,” Walsh continued. “My aim is to chip away at several of these obstacles.”
Walsh earned a B.A. in political science at the George Washington University before earning his law degree at Vanderbilt. In addition to his summer of work with Disability Rights Tennessee, he has been a legal intern with the Rhode Island Commission for Human Rights in Providence. He spent a year as a teacher at Kiettisack International School in Vientianne, Laos, after earning his undergraduate degree.
“Adults and kids with disabilities need an attorney to help them navigate the educational system and the employment process and to make sure that their voices are clearly heard and represented,” Walsh said. “I want to be that attorney and the George Barrett Social Justice Fellowship has made that possible.”