Alumni couple spreads love of Washburn to nation's capital
Tim Belsan used to walk by Asha Plattner’s apartment in the Washburn Village when attending a study group his first year of law school. The two never actually met until shortly after graduating.
Tim, jd ’09, and Asha (Plattner) Belsan, as ’08, ba ’09, hit it off and married in 2011. They live in Alexandria, Virginia, where he’s an attorney in the Department of Justice and she’s a physical therapist assistant pursuing a master’s of public health.
They both credit scholarships with helping them afford college, and professors and programs with enhancing the experience.
Tim received the Weigand Trust Scholarship, giving him a full ride all three years.
“Scholarships were absolutely critical to both my decision to attend law school and school selection,” he said.
He graduated first in his class and was editor-in-chief of the Washburn Law Journal. He clerked for the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for two years then started with the DOJ in 2011. He received the Civil Division Rookie of the Year award in 2012. New hires are eligible for the award within their first three years.
“Receiving the award my first year gave me a lot of confidence in my ability to perform at a high level,” Tim said.
Tim recently worked with the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Eastern District of Virginia as a special assistant United States attorney in the Criminal Division. He’s now at Main Justice where he represents the United States in cases all over the country and is personally responsible for every aspect of litigation.
“In my section, we have the incredible opportunity to handle both affirmative cases and defensive cases, and to keep our own appeals, both of which are relatively rare within the Department,” he said.
It’s no surprise to him that PreLaw Magazine recently named Washburn No. 2 in the nation for government jobs. The proximity to the Statehouse, government agencies and courthouses gives students many opportunities.
“Washburn values the quality of teaching its law school professors provide,” he said. “The collegial nature of Washburn Law prepares students well for public service, where there’s a lot less emphasis on developing a book of business and far more importance placed on working together for a common cause.”
Asha was a community advisor in the Washburn Village and homecoming queen in 2007. She remembers prominently the influence of her advisor, Patti Bender, recently retired assistant professor in kinesiology.
“Dr. Bender was always full of life and energy, and it was clear that teaching brought her much joy,” Asha said. “I remember going to her office and asking if I could do my internship in Ireland – a place I had always wanted to visit. I was nervous she would say no, but instead of writing me off, she simply said, ‘If you can find it, you can do it.’”
Asha found it, and the experience expanded her worldview. She and Tim both integrated well when they moved across the country.
“Being from the Midwest has allowed us to keep things in perspective and not lose sight of the fact that ultimately, it’s hard work and consistency that make the difference,” Tim said.
Even though their paths never crossed while at school, they both share similarly heart-warming memories of Washburn. Many of their closest friends went to Washburn, including the best man and matron of honor at their wedding.
“It would be impossible for us to have such fond feelings and pride toward Washburn and not want to give back,” Asha said.
They have given every year to scholarships and unrestricted funds and contributed to Ideal Place: The Building Campaign for Washburn University School of Law.
In fact, Tim said he is proud of his first gift – $25 for law scholarships – made shortly after graduating.
“Don’t wait until you can give at the amount you ultimately wish. There is a need now for any amount,” he said. “We want others to have the same opportunities we had, not only to obtain skills and prepare for a career, but to develop meaningful relationships that survive long beyond graduation.”