November 14, 2023
Two Saginaw Valley State University students combined hard work with experience to argue their way to the top spot at a regional moot court competition on Saturday and Sunday, Nov. 11 and 12.
Nikolas Baker, a political science major from Standish, and Diva Patel, a cell biology, molecular biology and biomedical sciences major from Kawkawlin, won the Capital City Classic moot court competition at Capital University Law School in Columbus, Ohio.
“We are incredibly grateful to be able to participate in undergraduate moot court, especially knowing that our coaches put an immense amount of work into the program,” Patel said. “The competition was tough, but we were prepared to compete in this tournament and to perform our best. Nik and I are incredibly honored to have won the regional tournament and to represent SVSU in this way.”
Three other SVSU students joined Baker and Patel at the competition. Political science majors Kennedy Kreger, of Battle Creek, and Jeffrey Ramsey, of Greenwood, teamed up to advance to the “Elite 8” level of the tournament, only to be eliminated by Baker and Patel. Ramsey and Kreger won 5th and 6th place orator awards, respectively.
Jason Hoang, a political science major from Saginaw, competed with a student from another university in his first moot court competition. Along with his partner, Hoang argued well enough to advance to the second day of tournament.
“We’re immensely proud of all five students,” said Julie Keil, SVSU professor of political science and moot court director. Keil also praised the moot court team’s head coaches Amy Hendrickson, SVSU associate professor of law, and Kevin Lorentz II, SVSU assistant professor of political science. SVSU alumni Jrew Brickel, B.A. 2022, and Jacob Mojica, B.A. 2015, also volunteer weekly to help the students prepare for competition.
“These students have been working hard since May on their arguments, putting in countless hours practicing in and outside of class,” Lorentz said. “It is a testament to their skill and determination that we did as well as we did. Diva, Jason, Jeffrey, Kennedy and Nik are exemplars of the high-caliber students here at SVSU. They truly stood out among the other competitors, many of whom are from larger schools.”
Participants in moot court act as attorneys in a simulated argument in front of the Supreme Court. Competitions are judged on the quality and clarity of the students’ arguments, their public speaking skills and knowledge of the law and the case.
SVSU’s moot court program has qualified for the American Moot Court Association national tournament nearly every year it has competed since the program’s inception in 2010. In 2020, SVSU’s moot court was ranked No. 16 in the nation. Over 120 colleges and universities offer undergraduate moot court programs, fielding more than 500 two-person teams that are registered to compete in AMCA undergraduate moot court qualifying tournaments.
For more information about the American Moot Court Association, go to amcamootcourt.org.