Alum Establishes Human Rights Award for UConn Law Students

Paul Schneider ’18 LLM created the award for law students who pursue social justice

UConn Law School at night. (Sean Flynn/UConn Photo)

A new award has been created for School of Law students who pursue human rights and social justice. (Sean Flynn/UConn Photo)

After retiring from careers in international banking and law, Paul Schneider ’18 LLM became a student again, enrolling at UConn School of Law to study human rights and social justice. Being selected as the 2017 recipient of the Olimpiad Ioffe Prize for Outstanding Graduate Student in Comparative Law inspired Schneider to think about charitable giving to the School of Law.

Schneider established his first award in 2018, honoring a beloved professor, Kent Newmyer. Now, Schneider, together with his husband Bryan Garcia, has established a second award, the Paul Schneider LLM 2018 and Bryan Garcia Human Rights and Social Justice Award, to be awarded annually to one or more law students who demonstrate a commitment to advancing human rights and social justice. The first recipient was selected in May 2021.

“It is a tremendous honor to be selected as the first recipient of this award,” says Christopher Gelino ’14 (CLAS) ’21 JD. “The award speaks highly to UConn’s emphasis on human rights and social justice.”

As a UConn undergraduate, Gelino studied political science and human rights, joined the Community Service Learning Community, and served as a trip director and coordinator in the Office of Community Outreach. He then spent a year with AmeriCorps and earned his master’s degree in international politics before returning to UConn for law school.

Gelino joined UConn Law’s Human Rights Law Association, starting as a first-year law student representative and going on to serve as the association’s president. He says that while he put in a lot of hard work that led to this recognition, he did so with the support of the other members of the Human Rights Law Association’s executive board. He also credits the many opportunities he was afforded at UConn and the School of Law.

“The Human Rights Law Association is made up of passionate, knowledgeable students,” Gelino says. “The fact that so many of them were UConn undergrads, learning from their experiences in Storrs and going on to advocate for these issues, speaks to UConn’s emphasis on teaching these values.”

“The law school is extremely thankful for Mr. Schneider and Mr. Garcia’s generous gift that enhances the institution’s strengths in human rights and social justice,” says Eboni Nelson, dean of UConn School of Law. “I congratulate Mr. Gelino on his selection as the inaugural award recipient, and I hope others will be inspired by his commitment to protecting human rights and advancing social justice both domestically and internationally.”

“Bryan and I are truly honored that UConn Law will select worthy recipients who will be recognized each year for their outstanding contributions to the field of human rights and social justice,” Schneider says.