New U.S. District Judge Sara Hill celebrated during moving ceremony - The University of Tulsa
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New U.S. District Judge Sara Hill celebrated during moving ceremony

Sara Hill, Judge
Sara Hill, Judge

The University of Tulsa’s College of Law proudly hosted a historic event on Jan. 19 with a celebration of alumna Sara Hill (JD ’03). Hill shattered glass ceilings as the first Native American woman and Tribal citizen to serve on the United States District Court for the Northern District of Oklahoma.

The occasion united prominent legal minds and Native American leaders in celebration of Hill’s extraordinary accomplishment.

Stacy Leeds (JD ’97) brought her good wishes and historical perspective. Leeds, who currently serves as dean and Regents Professor of Law at the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law at Arizona State University, was the first Native American woman to lead a law school. She encapsulated the remarkable journey undertaken by Tribal citizens, sharing the challenges and triumphs of those in the legal field. Leeds embraced Hill into the growing circle of Native American women in law.

Principal Chief of the Cherokee Nation Chuck Hoskin Jr. reaffirmed the great honor bestowed upon Hill, saying, “You want judges, no matter where they serve, to be people who have been tested. If they’ve been tested intellectually, professionally, in life, then they will make an excellent judge. And Sarah Hill’s been tested.”

Principal Chief of the Cherokee Nation Chuck Hoskin, Jr.

U.S. District Judge Gregory Kent Frizzell (BA ’81) acknowledged the long-overdue alignment of history with present times. “Being the son of a former law professor here at The University of Tulsa and a former solicitor at the Department of Interior who was tasked by President Nixon to begin his policy of Tribal self-determination, this is an important milestone. I think my dad would be very happy that this happened today,” he said.

Hill spoke of the invaluable impact TU Law had on her career. It was there that she discovered her passion for the law, honed her skills, and gained confidence. “I am so humbled and proud to be able to work alongside these people, to learn from them, to join them, and hopefully to leave my own mark on the Northern District in a positive way to help develop the law and its future. It is the best dream come true,” she said.

Hill’s historic achievement stands as a shining beacon of inspiration for present and future law students. By setting new benchmarks, students may know that their potential has no bounds.

“I think the most important thing about an educational institution is what happens with the graduates you produce and how they serve our community and our nation. And what we have tonight is an opportunity to see another wonderful graduate of our law school provide amazing service to the state of Oklahoma and to the nation” said TU Law Dean Oren R. Griffin.

Hill’s confirmation stands as a major milestone in the progress of Tribal citizens as she forges a path for other exceptional individuals, irrespective of their origins, to pursue their dreams.