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Law school graduate returns as admissions director


April 12, 2007
The learning curve for Zarinah T. Nadir, new director of admissions at the Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law, is shorter than most. She's already familiar with many of the names, the faces and the classrooms that surround her.

Nadir, who started her job March 6, not only holds a bachelor's degree in Spanish from ASU, she also graduated from its Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law, with high pro bono distinction, in May 2006.

“I know this school. I spent a significant amount of my life at ASU, and I have had an enriching experience here,” says Nadir, who was born in Queens, N.Y., but has lived most of her life in Arizona. “I want to add energy and insight into my new role as director of admissions as having just graduated from student-status, but I also look forward to gaining insight into and being a part of this vital process that generates the future generations of attorneys.”

Law school became part of the Mesa woman's career plans after the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, and the resulting backlash against the Muslim community, to which Nadir belongs. She said she realized “my responsibility is to educate and be an advocate for not only the Muslims, but all minority people and historically underprivileged people that may unjustly suffer simply because they do not have the legal resources at their disposal as some other groups do.”

As a law student, Nadir co-founded and was president of the Muslim Law Students Association, vice-president and treasurer of the John P. Morris Black Law Students Association, a member of the Dean's Council on Diversity and Inclusion, and a participant in the Homeless Legal Assistance Project. She also worked with the Arizona Senior Citizens Law Project and U.S. Immigration Court.

“I want to stay connected to the community and sustain the bonds already forged between the Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law, Phoenix and the larger legal community,” Nadir says. “I am excited to remain associated with academia, and I hope to be able to inspire a sharp and motivated population, who may not have considered law as a career path or may not have considered ASU as part of their future.”

She is a member of the Board of Directors of the Islamic Social Services Association, and she remains active in the Al-Mu'minah Young Women's Association, which fosters empowerment and leadership skills in young women. In addition, Nadir's face and story appeared in “The Face Behind the Veil: The Extraordinary Lives of Muslim Women in America,” a book published last year by journalist Donna Gehrke-White.

“I want to make use of my background and knowledge, of being an ASU alumna and lifelong Arizona resident, to extend the warm welcome mat that was extended to me when I first entered this law school,” she says. “I hope to be a friendly face out in other parts of the country to draw a highly qualified and even more diverse student body to the College of Law.”

Nadir also hopes to highlight the College of Law's accomplishments on the larger ASU campus and help promote the college's master's degree in legal studies, and legal degrees in biotechnology and genomics, and in tribal policy, law and government.