Inaugural Polking Fellows Announced: Margo Borders & James O'Toole

Author: Kenneth Hallenius

The Notre Dame Center for Ethics and Culture is excited to announce the first two recipients of the new Polking Family Fellowship. As the inaugural Polking Fellows, Margo Borders and James O’Toole will begin studies in Fall 2016 at Notre Dame Law School.

“The Polking Family Fellowships are awarded to select incoming law students that have shown a great deal of potential to develop as leaders who understand the connection between the law, public policy, and building a sustainable culture of life,” said O. Carter Snead, Director of the Center for Ethics and Culture. “We are excited about what Margo and James will achieve in the coming years as our inaugural Polking Fellows. We believe that their work with the Center, its visiting fellows, its research, and its special events will serve to build a tremendous foundation for their professional careers.”

Borders will graduate in May 2016 from the Honors Program with a focus in Theology at Boston College, and hails from Oklahoma City, OK. During her undergraduate studies, she has served as president of the campus Pro-Life Club, interned with the Catholic Campaign for Human Development, and mentored inner-city girls in goal setting and the virtues with the Midtown Educational Foundation in Chicago. “Because the field of law is so crucial at a time where family values and basic human dignity are constantly threatened in our society and legal system, my future practice of the law should work to build the culture of life that is so intrinsic to the faith,” said Borders. “My aspirations to work for the common good of all people will be enabled, enriched, and strengthened by working with the Center for Ethics and Culture.”

O’Toole, a native of Verona, NJ, studied English Literature at the University of Dallas and has been teaching middle school Latin in Manhattan while preparing for his law studies. “I taught for the last two years because the formation of the future generation as thoughtful and respectful men and women matters to me,” said O’Toole in his Polking Fellowship application. “Similarly, I want to ensure that our country going forward will continually honor and respect its citizens’ right to life in all ages. I am excited to begin my adventure as a Polking Fellow, willing ‘to put out into the deep,’ to defend our liberties and to contribute to the creation of a culture of life in the United States.”

The Polking Family Fellowship was established in February 2016 to recruit and provide funding for top law school candidates who have a demonstrated passion for the Catholic mission of the Law School and who share Notre Dame’s commitment to the inalienable dignity of every human life from conception to natural death. The fellowship was made possible through a generous endowment made by Paul and Joan Polking. Polking ’59 B.S., ’66 J.D., is a retired executive vice president and general counsel for the Bank of America Corporation. He is also a member of the Law School Advisory Council.

Originally published by Kenneth Hallenius at on April 15, 2016.