Great Grad: Jacqueline Gharapour ’04
Donaghey Scholar Fights for Equity in Education -Not afraid to stand up for civil rights and education standards, attorney Jacqueline Gharapour has chosen a career that is impacting the nation’s future — from mentoring high school students to filing briefs in the U.S. Supreme Court.
Gharapour, a Donaghey Scholar from Little Rock, graduated summa cum laude from UALR with bachelor’s degrees in English, history, and French in 2004, receiving top senior awards from all three departments.
“I was recruited for the Donaghey program by Dr. Earl Ramsey, whose wife was my biology teacher at Parkview,” she said. “I thought between the great personal attention and the scholarship, UALR was clearly the right choice.” Gharapour had another full merit scholarship offer from a private university, but she liked the interdisciplinary nature of the scholars program as well as the more urban environment and less elitist feeling of the school.
The high achiever went on to graduate in the top quarter of her 2007 juris doctorate class at the University of Virginia School of Law, receiving a full merit scholarship. She served on the Virginia Law Review editorial board and was co-founder and president of the UVA Street Law Program.
“I definitely believe that the education I received (at UALR) helped prepare me to succeed at a competitive/elite law school, and that has been pivotal in getting my career on its feet,” she observed.
During her time in Charlottesville, Va., Gharapour was a research assistant for law professors, delving into such issues as the impact of American constitutional thought on the debates preceding the French Constitution of 1791 and the history of funding of Richmond City Schools. She also participated in the UVA Supreme Court Litigation Clinic, where she drafted petitions to the U.S. Supreme Court. She pursued an interest in appellate litigation she developed during her first summer of law school when she clerked for Arkansas Supreme Court Justice Robert Brown.
Now an associate at Hogan & Hartson LLP in Washington, D.C., Gharapour has helped draft two briefs in the U.S. Supreme Court. She recently helped attain a major settlement on a pro bono civil rights case and began working with the firm′s Appellate and Supreme Court practice group. She has mentored high school students through the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation, taught legal ethics to secondary students at education conferences, and will soon begin tutoring third grade students in math.
Although Gharapour has worked with diverse groups during her time at Hogan & Hartson, her passion is education law. Her work in the Education Law Group at the firm has included researching and analyzing state and federal education laws such as No Child Left Behind, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, and the Americans with Disabilities Act. Additionally, she drafted admissions materials, policies and procedures, and other materials for K-12 and higher education institutions.
“I like the analytical nature, and I like being able to solve problems for clients,” Gharapour said.
She is a member of the Illinois State Bar Association and Education Law Section and the D.C. Chapter of the UALR Alumni Association. “I moved to D.C. by myself,” she said. Most of my family lives in Arkansas, and my boyfriend lives in Chicago. I thought that the alumni chapter would be a good way to meet people in D.C. and network with people who have something in common with me.”
Having paid her dues to establish her legal career, Gharapour says she has reached a place to be content. “Actually, for the first time I think I have met most of my goals and am just trying to enjoy the fruits of those labors. I hope to continue to travel a lot — I have visited Peru and Bolivia this past year and am about to go to Italy next month. As for professional or educational goals, I’m giving myself a break from those for awhile.”