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UAlbany's DeBraccio Enjoys a Good Argument

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June 14, 2010

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Steven DeBraccio graduated summa cum laude in three years.

UAlbany's Steven DeBraccio, '10 graduated summa cum laude in three years. (Photo Mark Schmidt) 

Recent UAlbany graduate Steven DeBraccio, '10 enrolled at UAlbany because of its nationally recognized criminal justice program. In addition to being named valedictorian of the major, he recently won the SUNY-wide Scharps Award competition for best legal essay.

Whether the subject is baseball or politics, the 20-year-old DeBraccio has always enjoyed a good argument. While still in high school, he knew that law was his calling. Entering UAlbany with 15 college credits from high school, he graduated summa cum laude in three years. He took advantage of UAlbany Summer Sessions, earning 12 credits during the summers instead of taking a seasonal job. His focus paid off.

"Do what you love, love what you do, and the rest will work out as it should," DeBraccio said in his valedictory speech to the School of Criminal Justice.

The Delanson resident heard about the legal essay contest from Distinguished Teaching Professor of Criminal Justice James Acker.

"Winning the Scharps Award, which recognizes the best undergraduate student legal essay throughout the entire SUNY system, is a tremendous accomplishment," said Acker. "Steven has excelled in several other law-related pursuits, including participating on UAlbany's moot court team and completing his honors thesis. His aptitude and enthusiasm for issues of constitutional law are exemplary."

In his Scharps competition essay on Balancing Free Speech and Campus Safety, DeBraccio proposed designating large free speech zones in prominent places on campus.
"I've always been fascinated by the law (and the Constitution) and its application. I want to be a judge and of course, being a lawyer is the stepping stone to get there...I really believe court decisions affect people more than they appreciate," DeBraccio said.

The Benjamin and David Scharps Award is offered annually, in accordance with a gift accepted by the State University of New York Board of Trustees under the will of Hannah S. Hirschhorn. As first-place winner, DeBraccio receives a check for $1,500. Second-place finisher was Benjamin Pomerance of Plattsburgh State College, who won $1,000.

"UAlbany's faculty are first rate," said DeBraccio, "They've been so helpful with classwork as well as advisement. My adviser helped me get in touch with several admissions personnel from Albany Law School, which is where I'll attend next fall."

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