The Big Picture: Celebrating Katie Westbrook at the Law School

Andy Starnes/Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Andy Starnes/Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

by Emily Shaffer, Staff Writer

“How do you like law school?” Common answers to this inquiry usually include a head shake, a sigh or groan, an eye roll or a grumbling about how much work it is.  Let’s face it; attending law school is not so much about the bigger picture and changing the world now that we are actually here. It’s all about the worry.  We worry about whether we will get called on for that case we did not read, whether taking that much-needed job will affect our performance in school, or whether we know enough to pass the bar. We have become so involved with our law school lives that the big picture — the personal reasons we came here — has been moved to the back burner or has been forgotten all together. But on Saturday, September 22, many Duquesne Law School students found time to attend remember, and celebrate the big picture, but taking part in a tradition at the Law School: The Katie Westbrook Race Ipsa Loquitor.

At the 11th Annual Katie Westbrook Race Ipsa Loquitor 5K Run and (now) Dog Walk, nearly 100 participants, including students, faculty, staff, unaffiliated participants, and around 20 canine friends, joined in the tradition.  Though registration began at 8 a.m., participants arrived with smiles on their faces ready to support the cause.  The usual law school worries were pushed aside for the morning and participants either ran or walked to show their support for the cause.  Winners of the race included: Chris Skovira and Chrissy Boggs in first place; John Woodruff and Rebecca Kennedy in second place; Jake Klinvex and Carrie Spuhler in third place; and Mary Kate Serratelli and her dog Winston with the fastest dog prize.  Another notable participant was Professor Bruce Ledewitz, who finished the race in 25:13 minutes.

Katie Westbrook, like all of us in law school, dreamed of becoming a lawyer. At the young age of 13, she saw the big picture and what becoming a lawyer meant.  But she had to fight a battle much bigger than law school when she was diagnosed with osteosarcoma (a rare bone cancer) before she was even old enough to graduate high school. At 15 years old, Katie was to receive an honorary degree from Duquesne University School of Law; however, she lost her battle before the ceremony, leaving behind her “big picture.”  Now, through the Katie Westbrook Race Ipsa Loquitor and the SBA’s Centennial Endowed Fund, current law students are afforded the opportunity to bring their big picture into focus, remembering the girl in the pretty pink wig who could not.
Katie’s mother, Beth Westbrook, and her husband, Andy Starnes, were in attendance at the race with their pug, Gracie. Mrs. Westbrook addressed the participants with genuine words of gratitude and a reminder that at Katie’s death she became the guardian angel of Duquesne Law School.
“When you hear that voice saying you can do a little bit more, you can keep on trying, that voice is Katie,” Mrs. Westbrook said.
And as Duquesne third-year law student and emcee for the event, Mike Rush, pointed out at the race, “We know Katie was here today making sure the rain held off.”
But on Saturday, September 22, many Duquesne Law School students found time to attend, remember and celebrate the big picture, by taking part in a tradition at the Law School: The Katie Westbrook Race Ipsa Loquitor.
This article was originally published on October 12, 2012.

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