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Marquette University Alumni Association

Law School Recipients

Howard B. Eisenberg Service Award


Columbia, Ky.

Stefanie Ebbens will never forget one stressful day when she had five tough cases on the docket in the Circuit Court of Cumberland County, Ky., one of the poorest counties in the nation. Time after time, she stomped to the podium and was successful in each case. Afterward, an old man, wearing muck boots and a beard that came to the top of his faded overalls, grabbed her by the elbow.

“I just wanted to say you’re impressive,” he told her. “You walk in here loud and proud, you know what you’re doing, and you do a hellava job! I just wanted to tell you that.” And then he walked away. 

The stranger learned what many already knew: That Stefanie, the directing attorney for the Columbia, Ky., office of the Appalachian Research and Defense Fund, is making a real difference in her community. She provides legal support to victims of domestic violence, as well as home foreclosures, consumer protection, and debt restructuring. Previously, she worked for the special education and consumer rights units of the Legal Aid Center of Southern Nevada.

“I can’t imagine doing anything else,” she says simply.

Stefanie is grateful for her experience at Marquette, where she received the Outstanding Public Interest Law Student Award from the Wisconsin Bar Association and the Equal Access to Justice Fellowship.

“The Public Interest Law Society and Professor (Greg) O’Meara kept me in school, and without that where would I be?” she says. “Even though Dean Eisenberg passed before I started, I was indoctrinated by staff and past students on the importance of his legacy, and I truly live by his motto, ‘Do well, and do good.’ ”

And she also gives it her own twist. “It’s my mission that if better is possible,” she says, “good is not enough.”

Fun facts about Stefanie:
Hometown: Cedarburg, Wis.
Favorite quote: “I will worry about that tomorrow, for tomorrow is another day.” — Gone with the Wind
Someone alive or dead she’d like to have dinner with: Aaron Rodgers
The Marquette faculty member who had an impact on Stefanie: Rev. Greg O’Meara, S.J.
Favorite Marquette memory: The PILS auction raising $40,000 the year she ran it.
Most influential people in her life: Her parents