Law Students of the Year: Rasha Abu-Zeyadeh, Texas Tech University

Rasha Abu-Zeyadeh was born in Kuwait, just months after the start of the Gulf War. Seeking refuge, her family fled to Jordan. As Palestinian-Jordanians, the family faced discrimination and resulting hardship.

When she was only 8 years old, her family moved to the U.S., where she quickly mastered the English language and excelled in school. She later worked multiple jobs in order to pay college tuition and living expenses. Through multiple challenges, Abu-Zeyadeh worked hard to attain her ultimate goal – law school.

Since beginning her journey at Texas Tech University School of Law, Abu-Zeyadeh has demonstrated an outstanding commitment to working on behalf of underrepresented people and causes. She balances academic commitments and extracurricular activities, while still showing a commitment to public service.

Abu-Zeyadeh logged over 100 hours of pro bono work during each of her first two years of law school, earning her the “Dean’s Award” recognition on the Texas Tech Law Pro Bono Honor Roll, as well as admission to the Law Student Pro Bono College of the State Bar of Texas. She also was a PSJD Pro Bono Publico Award Top 7 finalist in 2015.

This third-year student has volunteered with a variety of legal services organizations in Lubbock and across Texas, including the Innocence Project of Texas, the Dallas County Public Defender’s Office, the Dallas Volunteer Attorney Program, Legal Aid of NorthWest Texas, and the Texas Legal Services Center.

Abu-Zeyadeh currently serves indigent individuals as a student attorney in the Texas Tech Law Criminal Defense Clinic. She represents clients criminally charged in cases ranging from misdemeanor harassment to felony unlicensed use of a motor vehicle.

Abu-Zeyadeh also serves on the Pro Bono Board of Directors at Texas Tech Law where she is the voice of the student body and helps create new pro bono projects. She recently coordinated an event for students to sign holiday cards for patients at the Texas Department of Criminal Justice Montford Psychiatric Unit in Lubbock.

During her first year of law school, she founded the Criminal Law Association at Texas Tech Law. This group has become one of the leaders on campus for community service. Just after one year of its inception, the Criminal Law Association was awarded $2,000 from the Student Bar Association for being the top pro bono based organization on campus. Abu-Zeyadeh and the Criminal Law Association have taken on projects ranging from donation drives to finding bone marrow matches for young kids in need of bone marrow transplants.

Abu-Zeyadeh is one of 25 future lawyers honored in the National Jurist’s 2017 “Law Student of the Year” feature. Find more honorees here. 

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