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Excelling from classroom to courtroom

Lilia Toson-DysvickAs a national champion debater and political science major at William Jewell, Lilia Toson-Dysvick ’07 often found herself posing arguments and defending her strategy. As a recent graduate and member of the Law Review at New York University School of Law, she will soon be taking those skills from the classroom to the courtroom.

Toson-Dysvick, who is currently serving as a law clerk to the Honorable Judge Duane Benton, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit in Kansas City, recently learned that she has passed the bar exam in New York. She has accepted a position with Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton in Manhattan, where she will begin practicing as a litigator in the fall of 2012.

Toson-Dysvick was a member of the pre-law advisory program at Jewell, and she remembers the helpful advice she received from Jewell alumni at the law luncheons conducted by the College while she was a student. She also credits Jewell with helping her hone her writing and public speaking skills, and with fostering an awareness of current events and developing an ability to engage others in conversation.

“I find myself thinking about the opportunities I had in my Responsible Self classes and as part of the Pryor Leadership Studies Program,” Toson-Dysvick recalls. “Those experiences taught me to be introspective and to plan my life and goals. I learned to ask myself, ‘Is this the kind of person I want to be, and am I moving toward that?’ That’s something that gave me an advantage, and it’s a skill that I still rely on.”

She remembers Jewell debate coach Dr. Gina Lane as being “hugely influential” in her Jewell experience, and Dr. Rein Staal, Dr. Gary Armstrong, Dr. Alan Holiman (professors of political science) and Dr. Lois Anne Harris (professor of communication and director of fellowships advising) as contributing greatly to the education she received. “At Jewell, it was not a possibility to fade into the background of a huge lecture class,” Toson-Dysvick says. “I really appreciate the level of personal attention I received there.”

As a debater, Toson-Dysvick was named the top speaker in the nation at the National Parliamentary Tournament of Excellence in March of 2006. She also competed at Oxford University’s world-style parliamentary debate competition.

That year she was also selected as a finalist in Glamour Magazine’s “Top Ten College Women” competition.  Karen Page, award-winning author, founder of the Harvard Business School alumnae network and a member of Glamour’s judging panel, had high praise for Toson-Dysvick at the time: “I am so impressed with Lilia’s strong sense of self at such a young age,” Page said. “I look forward to seeing where her exceptional abilities will take her in the years to come.”

Dr. Gina Lane, professor of communication and debate coach at Jewell, also had high expectations for the award-winning debate team member. “Lilia was a standout debater for Jewell,” Dr. Lane says. “She was fiercely competitive, extraordinarily intelligent, and gifted in argument. Lilia impressed judges with her ability to see the entire debate and weigh the arguments as a judge would see them.  More often than not, this meant a win for Jewell. I am very proud of everything Lilia has accomplished since leaving Jewell, but I am certainly not surprised.”

Toson-Dysvick, her husband Chad Dysvick, and her son Malcolm currently reside in Kansas City, Missouri.


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