National Jurist - January 2009 - 29
the battle in women’s rights. She also had a unique ability to work with people who did not share her views.” Both Christie and Curt noted that Jana’s death has presented them with some items about their daughter that they did not know prior to July 3, 2008. One of them being some letters they’ve received from other parents, describing how Jana was helping them. ing prisoners), and had started talking about the possibility of criminal prosecution as a step along her career path. Agrawal believes Jana made her presence in the law school community known pretty quickly. “She had presence and a great smile,” she said. “She seemed to draw people to her. I can almost still see her at her favorite table in the student commons or her usual ue to march on with 1100 torches in Jana’s memory. “We’re not sure where this will go,” Curt said. “When we go out to speak about Jana and what she was doing, it really moves the room. One of our goals is to create an institute to focus on women’s rights in Kansas and beyond.” And though Jana was not given enough time to change the world, she has helped a Most people who knew Jana Mackey say she was a ‘natural leader’ with a knack for bringing people together. In December, Jana was posthumously awarded the Paul. E. Wilson Advocacy Award by the Kansas Association for Justice. The award is presented to a KU law school student who has demonstrated a sincere commitment to the ideals upon which the project, Eleven Hundred Torches, was founded. “We were amazed at how many people’s lives she had touched,” both said. “Jana took her work very seriously, but she also was a very happy kid. She saw the world as her playground.” Part of that world encompassed her law studies at the University of Kansas School of Law. Dean Gail Agrawal said Jana was a law school dean’s dream candidate. “One of her teachers described her as a ‘rare combination of intellect, thoughtfulness and passion,’” Agrawal said. “She came to us already a passionate advocate for social justice issues with a clear vision about why she was seeking a legal education — to be the most effective advocate she could be for the people and issues that mattered to her.” Jana was notable for having a clear vision about her future as a lawyer, and her chosen path was atypical — public interest advocate rather than law firm practice. Before her death, Jana was enrolled in the Paul Wilson Defender Project (defend- bench just outside the law school doors, always surrounded by a large and diverse group of friends.” On a very personal level, Agrawal said she enjoyed talking to Jana, and looked forward to watching her develop as a lawyer and a leader. Continuing Jana’s legacy Earlier this year Curt and Christie began a Web site, www.1100torches.org, which encourages 1,100 people to serve others. The ultimate goal of the site is to document 1,100 people and their stories of community service and/or advocacy. While Jana never sought attention for her work, she has certainly gained attention in recent months. “She would be amazed at the attention this has gotten,” Christie said. “She would want to be remembered for all the hard work she was doing.” “Her single torch has definitely multiplied,” Curt added. Her parents say they will continJanuary 2009 THE NATIONAL JURIST 29 lot of people in her too-short life. “The number of people who pick up her torch and carry on with the missions she cared about will be the measure of her legacy,” Agrawal said. “She was one of those rare young women who seem truly comfortable in their own skin, with who they are. I usually associate that trait with age and maturity, but Jana had developed it ahead of schedule. She was accepting of others. She crammed a lot into a short life.” Michelle Weyenberg, associate managing editor, also contributed to this story. For further information on carrying on the work Jana so dearly cared about, visit www.1100torches.org.
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