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UK Law Student, Professor Receive Torch Bearer, Torch of Excellence Awards

November 22, 2016

Ismaila Ceesay, third-year law student at the University of Kentucky College of Law, and Melynda Price, Robert E. Harding, Jr. Associate Professor of Law and director of African American and Africana Studies in the UK College of Arts and Sciences, were recently honored with the Torch Bearer and Torch of Excellence Awards. Recipients are honored for significant contributions to the university and the community during the annual Lyman T. Johnson Upholding the Torch of Excellence awards ceremony.

Ceesay, who received the Torch Bearer Award for 2016, was instrumental in establishing the StreetLaw program at UK Law. StreetLaw is dedicated to teaching high school students and members of the Lexington community about law and the legal system. Students utilize their legal education to teach real-life lessons in law and government to high school students, empowering them to go forward and make positive changes in the community, while also inspiring them to consider a future legal career. Lessons taught include criminal and civil law, employment law, housing law and family law. Ceesay served as president of the organization during the 2015-16 school year.

Ceesay has further impacted high school students by serving as a Kentucky college coach in AmeriCorps, where he assisted high school students with matching the best colleges to their aspirations. He also previously served as a program coordinator for Caux Scholars Program, a summer program in Switzerland. Through this program, 20 diverse professionals from around the world came together to study conflict transformation and peace work.

Ceesay is committed to civil rights and social action, economic empowerment, education and human rights. In addition to attending law school, he is the manager of International Partnerships at the UK International Center. He will complete his law degree in December 2016.

Professor Price, who received the Torch of Excellence Award for 2016, joined UK Law as an assistant professor in the fall of 2006, after completing her doctoral degree in political science at the University of Michigan. Her dissertation was awarded the 2007 Best Dissertation Award from the Race, Ethnicity and Politics Section of the American Political Science Association. In addition to her degree in political science, she also earned a juris doctor from the University of Texas School of Law in 2002.

Professor Price has a national impact through her research that focuses on race, gender and citizenship, the politics of punishment, and the role of law in the politics of race and ethnicity in the U.S. and at its borders. In 2008, she was awarded a Ford Foundation Diversity Postdoctoral Fellowship. She received a fellowship from Woodrow Wilson School’s Program in Law and Public Affairs (LAPA) and is spending the 2016-17 academic year at Princeton University, pursuing a project that analyzes how we understand activism among black mothers of murdered children.

Furthermore, Professor Price is the author of "At the Cross: Race, Religion and Citizenship in the Politics of the Death Penalty" (Oxford University Press, 2015). Finally, she impacts the campus and community at large in her role as a coordinator for the annual Black Women’s Conference sponsored by UK’s African American and Africana Studies.