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Sarah Landau, University alumna.

Sarah Landau ('94) has begun funding a scholarship at the U.

Returning the favor

By Jodi Auvin

From M, spring 2004

Sarah Landau ('94) had every intention of attending Stanford University to do her undergraduate work. In fact, the Ann Arbor, Michigan, native was accepted at both Stanford and Duke. But because Landau's parents were getting a divorce during her final year in high school, it changed her financial aid. Her mother, who was from Minneapolis, suggested the University of Minnesota.

"The University admitted me and offered a financial aid package that included a scholarship," recalls Landau. "It was my only means of starting college on time."

An honors student, she received the Fesler Scholarship in her freshman year and other scholarships during her remaining years at the U. "My intention when starting was that the U would be a way station," says Landau. "But when you go through the honors program, it becomes a very small school. I found an incredibly supportive network, really liked my professors, met great friends, and studied in Japan my senior year. The U wound up being a very good place for me. I couldn't imagine leaving."

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After graduating, Landau earned a law degree at Columbia University, then did a clerkship for a federal judge in Houston. She's now a trial and appellate attorney for Vinson & Elkins L.L.P. in Houston.

Last year, Landau began funding an endowed scholarship at the University. "The minute I decided to stay at the U, more than 10 years ago, I decided to give someone the opportunity somebody gave me," she says. "People can fall through the cracks for financial aid. That's when scholarships make a profound difference."

To date, Landau has contributed just under $2,000 towards the scholarship. "I always assumed I couldn't do something like this until I was 80," she says. "But when I learned it was only $25,000 to fund an endowed scholarship, I thought, 'I can aspire to that.'"

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