June 15, 2020 - Armin Salek, a 2016 graduate of the University of Houston Law Center, was recently selected for the Zuckerman Fellows Program at Harvard University.
The Zuckerman fellowship is awarded to doctors, lawyers, and MBAs who are interested in transitioning into the fields of education, public health, or public policy. Its purpose is to provide financial support to professionals that work at the cross section of social services and professional services. Salek will pursue a Master of Education Policy and Management as part of the fellowship next year.
"When I read the description, I thought it was perfect, that this was made for me," Salek said. "With the fellowship, I will take courses at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, Law School, and the Kennedy School of Public Policy. In addition to taking courses at Harvard, I will be a part of the cohort of Zuckerman fellows from the Kennedy School and Chan School of public health.
With attorneys, doctors, and MBAs, we will work together to address different problems that exist at the intersection of our professional backgrounds and social service interests. We will meet with leaders from the legal, political, health, and business worlds to learn from their experiences. In addition to the group projects from my coursework, I will work on consulting projects with other Zuckerman fellows."
Salek said he hopes to use this experience to expand legal education and high school clinical programs in Texas.
"There is a need and incredible benefit to teaching high school students about the law," he said. "This isn’t about producing a large cohort of attorneys. That isn’t my goal. I want to help students grow into critical thinkers, educated debaters, strong communicators, and socially conscious leaders. High school students are capable of incredible contributions to our communities if we give them the chance. They are also ready to argue about the ethical and political issues facing our country.
“If we expand legal education and high school clinical programs, we provide students with the opportunity to serve and to develop the soft skills that are becoming so much more crucial as people move further behind their screens."
Salek said that participating in the Center for Children, Law & Policy’s Street Law program made him want to use his legal background to educate others.
"Luckily, Professor Ellen Marrus brought Street Law to the Law Center for my last semester as a 3L," Salek said. "After one semester teaching at the High School for Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice, I knew that I wanted to make a career out of teaching.
"I always tell people that the best way to learn is to teach. On a daily basis I’m teaching students about criminal law, constitutional law, civil procedure, criminal procedure, family law, and immigration law."
For his efforts, Salek was recently awarded the title of Austin Independent School District High School Teacher of the Year.
"Getting recognized as the High School Teacher of the Year is the greatest honor I have received in my life," Salek said. "It means that the people around me are buying into the idea and impact of high school legal education. They see the way our clinic provides free services to the South Austin community. They see that Akins has transformed into one of the best high school mock trial programs in Texas.
“They are seeing that the classroom legal instruction is leading to success in other courses and in college applications. We are seeing positive outcomes, and I take this award as confirmation that what we are doing at Akins will receive the support it needs to grow beyond our high school."
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