Law student Rakesh Parekh has lived his whole life in the United States. Last year when he was awarded a fellowship that took him to India, he learned a lot about being a foreigner. As a legal intern for the South Asian Human Rights Documentation Centre, he wrote a chapter for an Indian criminal procedure manual to be distributed to rural attorneys and activists who did not have access to traditional law libraries. He also did research about people who were killed while in police custody. His third project focused on advocating for a Bhutanese leader’s due process rights afforded under the Indian Constitution. When he wasn’t working, he traveled and saw what he called “true poverty”—people and cows eating from garbage piles at the end of streets. He says the entire trip made him value his culture and heritage even more.
Warner Robins, Georgia
Warner Robins High School
B.S., Psychology, cum laude, University of Georgia
A.B., Criminal Justice, cum laude, University of Georgia
University highlights, achievements, awards and scholarships:
Last year, through the support of two public interest fellowships (Edward D. and Carol J. Spurgeon Public Service Fellowship and the Equal Justice Foundation Fellowship) and support from the Dean Rusk Center for International Law, I was privileged to travel to India to work, advocate, and improve my analytical and research aptitude in Indian and international human rights law at the South Asian Human Rights Documentation Centre in New Delhi, India. While in India, I also worked two days per week at a boutique international arbitration law firm as a Summer Associate. This past year, I was the President of the Asian Law Students Association, where I co-chaired a Tsunami School Adoption Project with the law school. Now, I am the president-elect of the UGA Student Bar Association for the 2005-2006 academic year, and I am planning, among a full-calendar of exciting events, the first Southeastern Public Interest Law Conference at UGA.
During the school year, I am an associate for LexisNexis, Inc., a company that provides law students and practitioners with legal, news, public records and business information. This summer, I will be working for a non-profit organization in Washington, D.C. called the American Constitution Society for Law and Policy. I will be involved in coordinating the national convention in July and working to create issue groups for various areas of the law such as international human rights law. Also, I plan to help with the North American South Asian Bar Association’s annual conference in Washington, D.C.
Family Ties to UGA:
My household consists of my father, mother, sister, brother, and my two paternal grandparents. My family history gives me the drive to travel and do international work. My father was born and raised in Kenya and then England, while my mother was born and raised in South Africa. They married and lived in England for a year before moving to the United States. I was born in Tifton, Georgia, raised in Sycamore, Georgia, and then Warner Robins, Georgia. Today, my family owns a business in Warner Robins where my father also does health insurance and real estate work.
I chose to attend UGA because…
…the combination of UGA and the city of Athens has more to offer than anywhere else in the Southeast. Both the law school and the city are remarkably affordable, and the school’s reputation is among the best public schools in the nation. I particularly enjoy the local atmosphere—the sense of a college town—and the talented musicians everywhere. The abundance of like-minded students interested in the local and international community was also an attraction that made it easy to come back to my alma mater.
My favorite things to do on campus are…
…to work out, play racquetball, and take yoga classes at the Ramsey Center as often as possible. I realize that when I leave UGA, this ultimate gym and sports complex is probably the best facility I will ever have had the opportunity to use.
My favorite place to study is…
…at various coffee shops around town. Because I stay so busy with school, I enjoy spending my time in public places like coffee shops because it gives me the feeling of being part of society with all the background conversations and noise.
My favorite professor is…
…Professors Dupre and Ball. Professor Dupre is not only a true pedagogue of the law, but she educates her students on practical aspects of lawyering as well. Her teaching style forced us to not only learn the material but to have a master understanding of it. Professor Ball was my professor for Constitutional Law. Because of his interest and previous work in public interest law, he is a role model for students who will pursue public interest work as a career.
If I could share an afternoon with anyone, I would love to share it with…
…former UN Secretary General Boutros Boutros Ghali. He was a champion for diplomacy in the 1990’s. I admire his advocacy for the imperatives of universality of human rights, particularly his fight for guarantees for protection and democratization as the necessary political structure to ensure these objectives. I really look up to him; I would love to discuss his thoughts about international relations and law since 9/11.
If money was not a consideration, I would love to…
…be a traveling international human rights activist, making the rules and norms of international law more promising and stable, and ideally advocating for victims of human rights abuses. After that, I would be very interested in assisting refugees and asylum seekers about immigration procedures in the U.S. and other safe-haven countries.
After graduation, I plan to…
…work for a non-profit organization dealing with law and/or public policy or an immigration law firm with a serious commitment to public interest law. I also hope to incorporate my knowledge and interest in international human rights as well.