Aisha Noor BA’12, MPA’13

UT Dallas is the best thing that ever happened to me. It has a small-family feel but big-school resources. I loved being surrounded by smart people who constantly push you to be better, with professors who give so much attention to the individual success of each student.

This story originally appeared in the UT Dallas Alumni Link

Friendship Sustains Comets Pursuing Legal Careers

During an introductory course in 2009, freshmen were asked to lead presentations on topics in which they consider themselves experts. Aisha Noor BA’12, MPA’13 decided to demonstrate her method for wrapping a hijab and chose Monica Niewiarowski BA’13 to be her model.

This moment launched a friendship that has allowed Noor and Niewiarowski to push each other to excel along parallel life paths, including a move from UT Dallas to Washington, D.C., to law school and back to Dallas, where they are enjoying their first year of professional law practice.

Now serving as associate attorneys — Niewiarowski works in product liability and toxic tort litigation with Hawkins Parnell Thackston & Young LLP while Noor focuses on commercial finance transactions for McGuireWoods LLP — the two found their love of the law at UT Dallas.

Both Niewiarowski and Noor graduated from the School of Economic, Political and Policy Sciences with degrees in political science and served as Student Ambassadors during their time on campus. Niewiarowski was also a McDermott Scholar. Noor was too young to be selected for the program — having entered UT Dallas at 16 years old — but ran in the same circles as the other Scholars and considered herself an “honorary McDermott.”

As pre-law students, Noor and Niewiarowski took their first major steps toward their eventual careers through the Bill Archer Fellowship Program. This initiative brings students from around The University of Texas System to Washington, D.C., for semester-long internships.

“We applied to the program together, drafted our applications together and helped prepare each other’s personal statements,” Noor said.

After their acceptance, Noor and Niewiarowski had to decide which internships they would seek, eventually taking positions with the Supreme Court.

“The Archer Fellowship is great because it puts you in Washington, D.C., and it encourages students to find the right internship for them,” Niewiarowski said. “There was something really fascinating about the Supreme Court at that time.”

“We found out about our acceptance soon after the Supreme Court decided to hear the first ‘Obamacare’ case,” Noor added. “I knew it was going to be a historic moment. Since Monica and I both had offers from the Supreme Court, I thought we should take them together.”

Although Niewiarowski and Noor performed different roles during their internships and were housed in separate apartments, they were inseparable during their time in the nation’s capital.

“We were still best friends. We walked to our first day together, went to monuments and museums together, and had desks right next to each other,” Noor said. “It was my first time living away from home, in a house full of strangers. It was really nice to have Monica there as a piece of home.”

Aisha Noor and Monica Niewiarowski“We were two of 32 students from the UT System that were selected as Archer Fellows,” Niewiarowski said. “While it was wonderful to expand our networks, it was also great to have Aisha there. I knew I could go to her for an empathetic ear when classes and work became stressful.”

Following a semester which introduced the two to the elegance of Supreme Court arguments, Noor and Niewiarowski returned to UT Dallas with increased enthusiasm for their chosen careers. From here, their life paths temporarily diverged, as they attended separate law schools and specialized in different fields.

Niewiarowski took inspiration from her experience on UT Dallas’ moot court team, where she fostered the rigorous argumentation skills needed to excel in oral and written litigation. In her first year, Niewiarowski’s team made it to the regional quarterfinals.

“Litigation is adversarial,” Niewiarowski said. “You need to present your arguments in a way that anticipates and withstands any potential objection. I loved that part of moot court. It showed me the kinds of problems that I wouldn’t mind spending hours a day working through. It affirmed my desire to be a lawyer.”

After completing her J.D. at the University of Virginia Law School, Niewiarowski returned to Dallas, partly motivated by her relationship with the late Mrs. Margaret McDermott.

“Mrs. McDermott wanted us students to help build a world-class city here in Dallas,” she said. “This city has experienced a renaissance, and I really want to be a part of it, contributing to the arts, social life and political environment.”

Noor returned to Dallas after attending the University of Chicago Law School, where she discovered a passion for negotiating through the written word that has inspired her practice representing large financial institutions.

Having reconnected in Dallas, Niewiarowski and Noor remain invested in each other and UT Dallas. Niewiarowski currently serves as an alumni advisor for Delta Delta Delta sorority, and both Niewiarowski and Noor have siblings who attended UTD and who are themselves close friends.

“UT Dallas is the best thing that ever happened to me,” Noor said. “It has a small-family feel but big-school resources. I loved being surrounded by smart people who constantly push you to be better, with professors who give so much attention to the individual success of each student. We left UTD as better, more well-rounded humans ready to approach the world.”

“This University is unique and so much fun,” Niewiarowski said. “We don’t have a football team, we have an esports team and an awesome chess team. There are so many resources available. I hope that current students take advantage of everything that’s out there.”

Of course, everything is better when you can experience it with a friend.

“The friends I’ve made at UTD — like Aisha — are the ones that have always been there for me,” Niewiarowski said. “It was great for us to come home after law school and pick up right where we left off. It was wonderful.”