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Pay It Forward Scholarship Inaugural Recipients Announced

St. Thomas University School of Law, in partnership with alumnus, Ricky Patel, Esq, established a new scholarship for incoming first-year students, the Pay It Forward Scholarship.

Ricky Patel is a senior partner at the law firm of Farrell, Patel, Jomarron & Lopez, where he’s known for his work in both the legal and philanthropic communities. In addition to handling class-action litigations and crisis management for both celebrities and athletes, Patel recently helped to establish the bad faith and statutory laws in Puerto Rico to help the people recover damages following hurricane Maria.

Mr. Patel is the youngest person appointed to President Barack Obama’s National Finance Committee, which he served on for two years. He also served as an ambassador for the Clinton Global Initiative. He supports charitable organizations such as Habitat for Humanity, VA WA (Violence Against Women’s Act), Haitian Orphanage, American Red Cross, and Nicklaus Children’s Hospital Foundation, where he serves as Chair of the Board of Directors.

Mr. Patel’s philanthropy inspired him to establish the Pay It Forward Scholarship at his alma mater, St. Thomas School of Law. The scholarship awards applicants who have developed a social program that found a unique way to help solve a social problem(s). St. Thomas Law has selected four scholarship recipients who have established a social program that gives back to those in need for the amount of $5,000 each.

Congratulations to the inaugural recipients of the 2020 Pay It Forward Scholarship are incoming first-year students Dona Beaubrun, Cassidy Heitman, Ashley Roberts, and Danielle Salinas!

Dona Beaubrun

Dona Beaubrun selected for his creation of the nonprofit, Pitit Kay. The organization’s mission is to provide resources for kids in need in his home country of Haiti. Mr. Beaubrun has been able to provide over 300 bookbags & school supplies for Haiti’s youth. He hopes to one day build a library in his home town of Saint-Louis Du Nord & continue his charitable work into his legal career.


Cassidy Heitman

Cassidy Heitman is a twice serving AmeriCorps volunteer who established a volunteer and cultural orientation program that assisted refugees at Church World Service (CWS). Ms. Heitman’s creation of in-home orientations versus group facilitated orientation helped customize the experience for individual refugee families. Through her orientation program, she served 81 individuals, provided over 600 hours of cultural orientations, and trained 110 people through her volunteer seminars.

Ashley Roberts

Ashley Roberts’ work exposed her to the trials & hardships endured by those seeking asylum or citizenship. She was motivated to create a free citizenship class at her local library to serve her rural community in Martin County. Three of her students have received their citizenship interview date & she is confident that they will pass. She hopes to use her law degree to open an immigration practice so those seeking asylum or citizenship would not have to travel 45 miles south to access an immigration attorney.

Danielle Salinas

Danielle Salinas created a girl’s empowerment club, ROAR Club: Let Your Voice Be Heard at Air Base K-8 Center in Homestead, FL. She’s motivated & guided young women to achieve personal & career-driven goals for the past six years. The club’s mission derives from four core pillars: Academic Life, Community Service & Activism, Life Skills, and Self Development. Ms. Salinas created ROAR “because I wanted t make a positive change in the world. I wanted to inspire people, but every day, it is each of you who inspire & change me instead.”

St. Thomas University School of Law, the Pay It Forward Scholarship committee, and sponsor Ricky Patel, Esq. are proud to award these four individual $5,000 scholarships to the inaugural recipients. Congratulations!

If you would like to donate to the “Pay It Forward Scholarship” contact Jorge Cos, Assistant Dean of Alumni Relations & Development at

Yamile Rodriguez

Author Yamile Rodriguez

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