The Honorable Maria Ladas Hoopes Leadership Award

Associated Students of Michigan State University  scholarships named for L-R Honorable Maria Ladas Hoopes, John McQuitty, Bill Livingood, Sam Siengh, and Dr. Lee June

Associated Students of Michigan State University creates six endowment scholarships

By Diana L. Coleman
Legal News

The Associated Students of Michigan State University (ASMSU) established the first endowment to support student leaders at MSU in 2014. This endowment makes annual scholarship awards to honor previous leaders, advocates and role models who best represent undergraduate leadership at MSU. The first awards will be given to support undergraduate students beginning in the fall of 2014. Students can apply for up to two awards.

The six scholarships were named for former MSU students who displayed extraordinary leadership skills while an undergraduate student at the university.  The ASMSU board searched the archives of former students and selected the final six in January.  The six scholarships are named: The Honorable Maria Ladas Hoopes Leadership Award, The John McQuitty Student Advocacy Award, The Bill Livingood Recognized Leadership Award, The Sam Singh Community Leadership and Engagement Award, The Dr. Lee June Multicultural Leadership Award, and The Charles Beachnau Spartan Leadership Award. (Beachnau passed away while serving as the ASMSU president.)

“Back in February,” said Muskegon County 60th District Court Chief Judge Maria Ladas Hoopes, “I received a phone call out of the blue and I could hear my secretary almost arguing with the caller who was insisting on speaking with me.  It was a Friday afternoon and she was probably trying to screen the call for me. Valerie came in and said, ‘Someone from ASMSU wants to speak to you. They want to name a scholarship after you.’

“At first I thought it was MSU soliciting donations from its alumni, but when my secretary said it was ASMSU, I was sure it wasn’t a solicitation,” said Ladas Hoopes.  “Then Kiran Samra, Chief of Staff of ASMSU, explained to me that ASMSU had established this endowment to present student leadership scholarships beginning in the fall of 2014. She explained the awards were named after former MSU students who had demonstrated strong leadership skills and one of them would be The Honorable Maria Ladas Hoopes Leadership Award. I was totally and completely stunned, humbled and honored.”
The ASMSU web page describing the six leadership award namesakes describes the contributions of Judge Ladas Hoopes:

The Honorable Maria Ladas Hoopes began volunteering for ASMSU as a freshman in 1984. In 1986, Maria became the first female Executive Director (President) of ASMSU. During her term, she organized protests against University decisions, was active in global politics, and recognized by the Detroit Free Press as one of the most politically active students in Michigan. The Honorable Maria Hoopes went on to serve as Muskegon Chief Judge of the 60th District Court. Maria demonstrated superior leadership and a drive to make change for students at MSU.

When asked about her student involvement at MSU, Ladas Hoopes said, “As a freshman, I made a decision to volunteer for student government.  During my time at MSU it was also the time of apartheid in South Africa, and I organized sit-ins, protests, and demonstrations to convince the MSU Board of Governors that it needed to divest its holdings in South Africa.  It was through these actions from the MSU student government and students, and other public protests for American companies to divest of any South African holdings, that apartheid was finally put down.”

She continued, “I was president of ASMSU when the school decided to building the Breslin Center. The MSU board made the decision to finance the Breslin Center through increases in student fees. We protested that the school should do it through donations. We did curb some of the fees appropriated from students, but not completely.”  Even through her organization of protests against student funding, Ladas Hoopes was asked to be a speaker at the Breslin Center groundbreaking.

“I have always believed that the decision to volunteer on issues I believed in opened doors for me,” said Ladas Hoopes.  “In 2007, I was asked to be the keynote speaker at MCC’s spring graduation and I was asked to speak about volunteerism. The speech was focused on volunteering and how it unexpectedly opens doors for you.  Even now, I am amazed that volunteering I did in the eighties at MSU in student government has opened yet another door for me.

“I never thought I would have a scholarship for perpetuity at MSU named after me.  Again, I am humbled.”

Judge Ladas Hoopes was appointed in December 2006 to the 60th District Court by Governor Jennifer Granholm. She is the first female to serve as a full-time judge in the history of Muskegon County. In 2012 Ladas Hoopes was appointed by the Michigan Supreme Court as Chief Judge, and she was reappointed in 2014.

Born and raised in Muskegon County, she graduated from North Muskegon High School and went on to earn her Bachelor of Arts Degree in Political Philosophy and Communications from MSU’s James Madison College in 1988. In 1985 she was a student of International Studies at Cambridge University in England. From 1987 to 1989 she worked as a paralegal for the Legislative Counsel for the U.S. House of Representatives and also for the American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research in Washington D.C.

Judge Ladas Hoopes receive her law degree from the University of Iowa in 1992. After passing the bar, she served as legal counsel to the Vice President for University Relations at the University of Iowa from 1992 to 1995.

In 1995, Maria and her husband, attorney Kenneth Hoopes, returned to Greater Muskegon to enter into private practice with her father, Paul Ladas, a former Muskegon County Prosecutor.  Judge Ladas Hoopes is one of two daughters born to Paul Ladas and his wife, pharmacist Patricia Ladas.

Like her parents, Ken and Maria have two daughters, Katherine and Mary Grace. They are definitely proud parents. Katherine has graduated from North Muskegon High School and is a student at the University of Michigan and Mary Grace is quickly following her sister.

In addition to taking care of her family jointly with her husband, Maria has received several community awards. Included  are Muskegon Community College Women of Accomplishment Award in March 2007, and the 2012 Unsung Hero Award from Muskegon NAACP; The Grand Rapids Business Journal recognized her as one of the 50 Most Influential Women in West Michigan in 2012. Ladas Hoopes is also proud of her strong Greek heritage and volunteers at the Greek Orthodox Church.

“I hope that someday I learn that someone attending MSU from Muskegon will have been awarded one of the Honorable Maria Ladas Hoopes Leadership Awards,” she said.

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