Jennine Lunceford and her daughter, Lucy, pose for a UT Dallas picture button during their time on campus in 1995
Jennine Lunceford and her daughter, Lucy, pose for a UT Dallas picture button during their time on campus in 1995.
Jennine Lunceford
Political Science '96

As a 17-year-old freshman, Jennine Lunceford had the typical college pressures of homework and grades, but she was also sharing her Waterview Park apartment with her precocious one-year-old daughter, Lucy. Not only did the duo ace their way through UT Dallas, but mom and daughter headed to Harvard where they conquered law school too.

Lunceford got her jumpstart at Cedar Hill High School. As a junior about to give birth, she spent time at home reading about the Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (PSAT/NMSQT®). Lunceford took it, was named a National Merit Scholar and received a scholarship to UT Dallas through the Academic Excellence program.

That first semester in the School of Economic, Political and Policy Sciences, Lucy lived at home with her grandmother while Lunceford settled in to college life. "There was such diversity—practically every apartment had a Caucasian, African-American, Indian, and Hispanic student," said Lunceford, who is black. The group bonded through nights spent in heated debates and intellectual discussions. "We were kind of nerds, but we were having fun."

Later, Dr. Dennis M. Kratz, then dean of undergraduate studies, created a job for Lunceford in his department which enabled her to take a private apartment so that she and Lucy could live together. Then, "he literally put a desk in his office suite so that I could work and study with Lucy next to me. That's how we got through college."

Lunceford also worked in the Office of Multicultural Affairs, creating programs and activities to support student life. When she wasn't working or studying, Lunceford and her classmates were abuzz. After all, they were one of the first freshman classes to attend UT Dallas after the Texas Legislature authorized the University to admit freshman and sophomore students for the first time in 1990.

They felt like pioneers.

Lunceford and her children: Lucy, 18, and six-year-old twins Theron and Jenora.
Lunceford and her children: Lucy, 18, and six-year-old twins Theron and Jenora.
"We started or were part of almost every program at UT Dallas—Greek life, student government, and student clubs. This is a big reason that my law school applications were so successful," Lunceford said.

When it was time for law school, Professors Greg Thielemann and Anthony Champagne, along with then-University President Franklyn G. Jenifer, "each sat down with me and wrote my recommendations."

Heading to the Ivy League, said Lunceford, "I did not feel intimidated on an academic level. I wasn't quite sure what to expect, but I think my education at UT Dallas put me ahead of most folks."

Fresh out of Harvard, Lunceford went to the Jones Day law firm in Dallas, where she spent a year training as a litigator. Wanting to "make a positive contribution," Lunceford left private practice and accepted a position as a trial attorney at the U.S. Department of Labor, where she focused on enforcing laws covering fair wages, discrimination and whistleblower protection. Lunceford ultimately returned to corporate practice in 2005 and defended companies in a variety of employment issues. Lunceford's passion for the underdog persisted, however, prompting the opening of her own practice where she works with individual clients dealing with issues including employment discrimination and retaliation and family law disputes.

She lives in DeSoto and has three children, Lucy, 18, and six-year-old twins Theron and Jenora.



Now that Chetan Reddy is a regional champ, he will head to the National Spelling Bee in June with his parents, Vijay Reddy (MSEE '92) and Geetha Manku (MS '94).
Now that Chetan Reddy is a regional champ, he will head to the National Spelling Bee in June with his parents, Vijay Reddy (MSEE '92) and Geetha Manku (MS '94).
Alumni's Ten-year-old Son Wins Regional Spelling Bee


The key to 10-year-old Chetan Reddy's victory at the Dallas Morning News Regional Spelling Bee last month can be described as "slow and steady."

Sticking to a deliberate strategy throughout the contest, Chetan asked for each word's definition, its country of origin, its part of speech and whether it had any alternate pronunciations. He then asked the bee pronouncer to use the word in a sentence. Only then did he proceed to spell the word.

The fifth-grade boy from Plano correctly spelled concomitance, which means "existence together or in connection with one another," to win the annual contest and received an all-expense paid trip to the National Spelling Bee in Washington, D.C.

Chetan got his chance to correctly spell the final word of the bee when runner-up Sutton Travis, a 13-year-old seventh-grader who attends Carthage Junior High in Panola County, incorrectly added a "u" to reflorescent, which means "to come into bloom again."

"I have to admit a sense of special pride because the winner's parents are UT Dallas alumni—and Chetan says he wants to attend their alma mater," said Dennis Kratz, dean of the School of Arts and Humanities, as he awarded the grand prize on behalf of UT Dallas at the bee's conclusion.

Chetan's parents, Vijay Reddy (MSEE '92) and Geetha Manku (MS '94), bring him to campus to watch chess games, another of Chetan's interests.

"He loves chess and is fascinated by the skill of the UT Dallas chess team," said Vijay Reddy.

The 2010 Dallas Morning News Regional Spelling Bee was presented by UT Dallas. Whataburger and the North Dallas Honey Company also were sponsors. In all, 27 students from North and East Texas competed, with early eliminations occurring on words like rapport and hollandaise.

The National Spelling Bee is scheduled to be broadcast Friday, June 4; semi-finals will air on ESPN beginning at 9 a.m. The final rounds of the bee will be broadcast the same day beginning at 7 p.m. on ABC.

To prepare for the national bee, Chetan studies the contest word lists for one to two hours every day and three to four hours on weekends. He's focused on the etymology and roots of words.

"He's quite excited," said Vijay Reddy. "His dream is to have a chance to go to the nationals. At the same time, he's a calm and composed kid.

"There's tough competition out there—anything can happen."
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