May 31, 2005
Law student's service dedication nets Emory's highest honor
BY beverly clark
by style sheet. For most students, just making it through law school is enough of an accomplishment, but for School of Law graduate Bharath Parthasarathy, his time at Emory also was a fresh opportunity for service. While balancing the demands of his studies, he worked on numerous initiatives across the University to make a difference in his community.
Whether it was through pro bono legal work, two terms as a Student Government Association (SGA) representative, or in his weekly student newspaper column that regularly pushed students to advocates for change, Parthasarathy tirelessly worked the past three years to make a difference. Described as a “model of the engaged student-scholar,” his achievements earned him the University’s highest student honor, the Marion Luther Brittain Award, given to a member of the graduating class in recognition of his or her service to the University.
“More so than any student I have met, Bharath is tirelessly committed to making Emory University a better school and
a better place to live and learn,” said law Professor Michael Kang. “Bharath has been involved with nearly every student initiative to improve the law school. He is one of those people who makes his surroundings a better place by force of his personality and hard work. Emory is lucky to have him here, and we’re sad to see him leave.”
After graduating with honors and highest distinction from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 2002, Parthasarathy entered Emory’s law school and immediately sought ways to become involved.
“I didn’t want to be defined as just a law student, and I wanted to make the most of my time here,” said Parthasarathy, a graduate of Dunwoody High School. “It’s a privilege to be in law school and in higher education in general. With that privilege comes great responsibility and an obligation to serve others. I don’t think my involvement is exceptional. I’ve just done the right thing. I wish every student would find a cause or two and devote themselves to it.”
As a first-year law student, Parthasarathy volunteered as a caseworker for Student Legal Services and did research for Common Cause of Georgia. With that project, he worked to improve governmental ethics laws in Georgia by researching models for ethics legislation and drafting memoranda with recommendations for action. His supervising professor wrote that “as with many of his activities, the ethics project allowed Bharath to combine his legal acumen and his passion for public service.”
Parthasarathy continued to serve the law school and its students for the next two years as a student interviewer for faculty candidates and as a member of the Class of 2005 gift committee. In addition, Parthasarathy took the unusual step—for a law student—of twice representing the School of Law as an SGA legislator.
That SGA involvement led Parthasarathy to share his talents with the larger Emory community. He served as executive counsel to SGA and was the only graduate/professional student on the SGA’s executive board. One particularly notable accomplishment was his work with the Emory Pact, a proposed financial aid program that would allow highly qualified students from low-income households to enroll and graduate from Emory debt-free. Parthasarathy said he will continue to support and work on the proposal even after graduation.
In addition, Parthasarathy completed a human rights field placement internship at The Carter Center and served as the graduate student representative on the University’s Commencement speaker advisory committee. He also founded a student organization, the Emory Law Young Democrats, and assisted the Georgia General Assembly House Democratic Caucus during the 2005 session. Finally, he found time to write a regular column for the Emory Wheel, which addressed topics ranging from unemployment to education to national politics.
Parthasarathy will join the Atlanta law firm of Alston & Bird, working in health care compliance and regulatory matters.