Melanie Thwing-Eastman

Drake Law School is proud to announce the formation of the Melanie Thwing-Eastman Public Service Law Scholarship.

Melanie Thwing-Eastman, LW’15, went to law school to make the world a better place, and from day one, she began a campaign of zealous advocacy that she would carry into her career as a defense attorney. While in law school, Melanie was elected Student Bar Association President, and took on a number of projects aimed at improving the lives of her fellow classmates. Despite the fierceness with which she defended her beliefs, Melanie was compassionate and approachable. She was a kind, friendly, upbeat woman who her family described as “the great connector.”

Melanie continued to advocate for the underrepresented in her career as a public defender. An eternal optimist, she worked tirelessly for her clients, often through nights, weekends—or even hospitalizations—to ensure she provided them with the representation she felt they deserved. Melanie also called out bigotry, hatred, racism, and structural injustice in her personal life. She knew she could effectively lend her voice to the voiceless, and she did.

On June 5, 2020, Melanie passed away after her toughest fight, and bravest effort, of all. Her friends, family, classmates and alma mater wish to honor her legacy, and create a lasting memorial to the cause she held most dear.

The scholarship is meant to help those who want to dedicate their careers to public service, specifically in public defense, by mitigating some of the expense of attending law school. The cost of an education should be neither a burden to entry, nor a restriction on the type of law a student wishes to practice, regardless of its compensation prospects. Melanie would have wanted many qualified, zealous attorneys to take up the mantle of public defense as compassionate, articulate advocates. With your help, we can honor her memory, and realize this vision.

Drake has set a goal of $50,000 to create an endowed scholarship fund in Melanie’s name, which will be a permanent legacy and provide financial assistance to students for generations to come. To date, more than $35,000, including a generous lead gift of $25,000, has been raised, but we need your help to meet, and in the spirit of Melanie, exceed our goal.

Contributions may be sent to the Drake University Advancement Office, 2507 University Ave, Des Moines, IA 50311, or made online at In either case, please note the gift is for the Melanie Thwing-Eastman Scholarship. For information about making a multi-year pledge or a gift of stock, please contact Thomas Smith, Drake Law Advancement Officer, at 515.271.1877, or