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Casarez Honored by Exonerated Man

Nicole Casarez, professor of communication, has been making headlines. Anthony Graves, a former death row inmate, whom she represented and was exonerated, recently created a scholarship in her name as thanks for saving his life.

“The communication department is so very proud of Nicole and her many awards and accolades,” said Dr. Robin Williamson, chair of the communication department. “We are extremely proud of her work in social justice. She is our ethical guiding light in her life and her work.”

Casarez, who has been a UST faculty member since 1987, has been a social justice advocate on the University of St. Thomas campus. She engaged students in a service-learning social justice project when they became part of the Texas Innocence Project research team in conjunction with the University of Houston Law Center. 

It was through their work with the Innocence Project that Casarez and her students were able find evidence that would eventually lead to the exoneration and release of Graves.

Graves was awarded $1.4 million by the Texas Legislature for wrongful incarceration and wanted to repay Casarez, but knowing she would not accept money consulted her husband and came up with the plan to create the scholarship.

The Nicole B. Casarez Endowed Scholarship in Law will benefit a deserving law student at Casarez’s alma mater, University of Texas at Austin.

Since the announcement of the scholarship, Casarez has been engulfed in a whirlwind of media — interviews with local stations, magazines and an appearance on the Katie Couric show, which will air on Nov. 7.

Still, she defers praise saying she was only interested in finding the truth. 

 The communication department will host a viewing party from 3:00 to 4:00 p.m. in the Old Bookstore in the Crooker Center.