Posted Feb 28, 2013 04:42 pm CST
A University of Virginia law student thought her claim to fame on the the Ellen DeGeneres Show was going to be a silly online video of her dance moves.
But 3L Dana Tapper, who wants a career advocating for children, learned during her appearance on Wednesday’s show that she was there to receive $20,000 to help pay her student loans, Above the Law reports. Tapper, who is the first from her family to graduate from college, came to Ellen’s attention as a result of a letter written by her friend, 3L Kathryn Cragg, according to a law school press release.
“Most law students are lured in by promises of large corporate salaries to help pay off their debt, but Dana has been steadfast in her commitment to helping those less fortunate,” Cragg wrote. “She spends many hours every week helping children transitioning out of juvenile detention centers. Dana also has the ability to bond with everyone she meets. She is maxed out on student loans but she somehow still manages to find cheap SAT books online for students who can’t afford them. I can’t think of anyone more giving, loving and deserving.”
Tapper told Above the Law she plans to use some of the money to pay for a bar review course. Right now, she said, her law school debt is “approaching the six figure range” and she didn’t want to take out an additional private loan. “This has been a real life saver for me,” she said.
At this point, Tapper does not have a job lined up. But she has an optimistic attitude and advice for others like her. “I encourage everyone to be passionate and true to themselves,” she told Above the Law. “I know it sounds cheesy, but it’s true. I’ve always wanted to save the world, and now I have an avenue to do so thanks to law school. If this sounds like you, then figure out what you love, and love it enough to accept everything that comes with it, including the debt. I’ve never questioned my decision to do public interest work even once.”