Miamians Allison Ailer ’93 and Jonathan Fox ’15 find ways to give back
By Jesús F. Jiménez, assistant director of digital content
What inspired Miamian and volunteer Jonathan Fox ’15 to start a scholarship for African American students entering law school?
The 2015 Miami University graduate saw firsthand the impact of scholarships.
“It’s personal, because I am a product of it,” he said.
After serving on the Miami University Pre-Law Alumni Advisory Board, he joined with Allison Ailer ’93. Together, the two established the Allison Ailer and Jonathan Fox Scholarship. This scholarship supports Miami’s African American students preparing for law school. Allison and Jonathan both know that scoring high on the Law School Admission Test (LSAT) is the ticket to getting into a highly ranked law school and, more importantly, earning an academic scholarship.
That’s why they set up a scholarship that gives a student $550 to take Miami’s spring semester LSAT preparatory course. In addition, it provides their scores to several law schools.
“It was very clear for me in my own personal experience that financial resources are needed throughout the process to kind of aid you throughout the way in that ultimate career goal endeavor,” Jonathan said.
In honor of #NationalVolunteerWeek, we recognize Allison and Jon as two of many alumni who go above and beyond to give back to Miami University.
“To all of our Miami University volunteers, please know that your generous contribution of time and energy to the university, students, faculty and staff is incredible and very much appreciated throughout the year,” said Amber Willeford, advancement services’ associate director of volunteer boards. “Your dedication is inspiring, and we can’t thank you enough for all that you do!”
Eager to help
Allison is a defense attorney in the Colorado Attorney General’s Office. Jonathan is a corporate attorney at Benesch, Friedlander, Coplan & Aronoff LLP.
Allison has been involved with the alumni association in many ways. For example, she helped the Colorado Alumni Chapter raise money for a scholarship. As a result, this led to her serving on the Pre-Law Advisory Board.
“I was very eager to help out in any way that I can,” she said. “I would not be where I am today had it not been for Miami.”
Through her work, Allison met a mentee who was struggling with student debt. Additionally, she kept reading studies saying that the number of African American students entering law school were low compared to other ethnicities.
“I started thinking about, ‘How can I even the playing field?’” she said.
Jonathan was looking for ways to get involved with Miami long before he graduated. While Jon was applying for law school, the director of Miami’s pre-law center, Maria Vitullo, was one of the people who helped him with his applications and personal statements.
“I eventually reached back out to her, because I knew usually that they have a law student serve on the board while they’re in law school to provide additional insight,” Jonathan said.
“I wanted to find a way to stay connected with the university.”
The Pre-Law Alumni Advisory Board is a distinguished group of Miamians who advise and support the efforts of Miami’s Sue J. Henry Center for Pre-Law Education.
A good cause
Once they joined forces, there was no stopping Allison and Jonathan.
They both went around their respective offices to raise seed money to start the scholarship. From there, they contacted Miami to start the paperwork.
“If you have a good cause, people will donate,” Allison said.
Allison and Jonathan wanted the funds that they raised to work immediately.
Thus, the scholarship in their names was set up under the non-endowment category. Otherwise, they would have had to wait until they raised at least $25,000 before any funds could be awarded. They started the process in the spring of 2019 and by the fall, students started to feel the impact.
Students who benefitted from the scholarship saw a nine-point jump on the LSAT.
“Just that initial year told both Jon and me that this is the route to go because a nine-point jump from the practice exam to the actual exam is huge,” Allison said.
Give or become a volunteer: Learn how
Allison and Johnathan are currently working toward endowing their scholarship while continuing to award them annually through their un-endowed scholarship. Jonathan has recently resigned from the pre-law board, but said he still supports their mission.
Allison continues to serve and volunteer, and the two call the experience life-changing.
“You have very few opportunities where you can really reach out and make fantastic changes for someone’s life,” Allison said. “Find the time, because you can help people get on the right road, and it’s the right thing to do.”
To donate to the Allison Ailer and Jonathan Fox Scholarship, write a check to the Ailer-Fox Scholarship Fund and send your check to the Division of University Advancement, Miami University, 725 E. Chestnut St., Oxford, OH 45056-9972. Your check will help pay for the cost of an African American student to take the LSAT preparatory course at Miami. It will also pay for them to submit their scores to several schools. You can also contact Evan Lichtenstein at lichteec@MiamiOH.edu to help with endowment.
To learn how to become a volunteer for Miami University, please contact Amber Willeford at willefal@MiamiOH.edu to discuss various volunteer opportunities.