NYU Law celebrates 25 years of institutional commitment to the AnBryce Scholarship Program

Members of the NYU Law community gathered on November 13 to celebrate the AnBryce Scholarship Program’s silver anniversary and the difference the program has made in the lives of close to 200 AnBryce Scholars. Past and present AnBryce Scholars, faculty, donors, and friends ascended to the Rainbow Room on the 65th floor of Rockefeller Center for a jubilant gathering overlooking the illuminated skyscrapers of Midtown Manhattan.

Founded in 1998 by Anthony Welters ’77, chairman emeritus of the Law School’s Board of Trustees, and his wife, Beatrice Welters, former US ambassador to Trinidad and Tobago, the AnBryce Program provides full tuition and programmatic support to incoming students who are among the first in their immediate family to pursue a graduate or professional degree and have demonstrated leadership in response to life challenges. The mix of financial support and wide-ranging mentoring has been a trailblazing and effective formula, helping generations of scholars achieve success at the Law School and afterward.

In his welcoming remarks, Dean Emeritus Trevor Morrison invoked the emotions the program’s impact can elicit, acknowledging that he had yet to make it through an AnBryce anniversary celebration without tears. Dean Emeritus John Sexton, who was dean when AnBryce was launched, deemed the evening “sacramental,” made sacred by the program’s mission. 

Dean Troy McKenzie ’00, who served as the AnBryce faculty director for more than a decade, likened his experience to “seeing your family grow up and expand and now fill the Rainbow Room…. AnBryce is an example to me of NYU at its most magical in this very magical place. Starting with an idea from Bea and Tony Welters, working closely with many, many supporters who were inspired by their idea, by those within this institution who saw it, who understood it, and who wanted to work with it, this is what we’ve built.” He announced that a classroom in Furman Hall would be designated as the AnBryce Classroom.

McKenzie also shared a message from Hakeem Jeffries ’97, minority leader of the US House of Representatives. “I am grateful for this wonderful program,” said Jeffries in his message. “We now have more lawyers who can go out into the world, defend the idea of equal protection under the law, the value of liberty and justice for all, and the principle of government of the people, by the people, and for the people. Through the AnBryce Scholarship, America will continue its long, necessary, and majestic march toward a more perfect union.”

Two AnBryce alumni spoke about how the program had changed their lives. Damaris Hernández ’07, the first Latina partner at Cravath, Swaine & Moore and a Law School trustee, explained that AnBryce “was more than just financial aid. It was a gateway to opportunities, mentorship, and a well-connected and supportive family…. You’ve empowered us to become agents of change, to give back, to mentor, to pave the way for future trailblazers. That is the power of AnBryce.”

Joel Todoroff ’14, special counsel for cybersecurity in the Office of the National Cyber Director, talked about how rare an opportunity like AnBryce is. “I feel lucky to have made it out, because not everyone did,” he said. “It’s not a fact that being smart lets you escape your circumstances. It is not the case that working hard lets you escape your circumstances. There is luck in it, and I got lucky. A lot of us got lucky…. [Thank you] for facilitating, for cultivating an environment for people like us.”

Attendees enjoyed a spirited performance by two Brazilian classical guitarists, Eduardo Gutterres and Gabriele Leite, who had attended the Aspen Musical Festival and School as Vincent Wilkinson Scholars. That scholarship was also founded by Anthony and Beatrice Welters, who made their way to the front of the room along with their sons Bryant and Andrew Welters when the performance had concluded.

Stepping up to the lectern, Anthony Welters told the crowd, “This moment is very special to me and my family…. AnBryce, for me and my family, is not a program. It’s not an initiative. It’s an extension of our family and the personification of what I believe, because in the midst of chaos, I find peace and tranquility among the people in this room.”

Welters emphasized the importance of collective determination in realizing the initial vision. “This was my big dream, to be able…to bring a group of people together who are different, but they all share one thing in common: a commitment to each other…. Thank you for investing in a dream that, but for you, it would never, ever have happened.”

Posted November 28, 2023