One Georgia State University College of Law student has always been an advocate for expanding her horizons. Now, as the Georgia State University 2023 “Study Abroad Student of the Year,” Niki Nourollahi (J.D. '23) traces her global journey back to her childhood growing up in Atlanta, Georgia.
Nourollahi's fascination with different countries blossomed during layovers on family trips to Iran.
“I always hoped I could step outside the airports of France, Italy, and Germany some day on my own travels,” Nourollahi recalled.
It was in 2017, during her undergraduate years at the Georgia State University Robinson College of Business, that Nourollahi's dream materialized when she embarked on a study abroad adventure in Toulouse, France.
“I took French classes for about seven years growing up as well, so choosing France as my first study abroad destination was an easy choice,” she said.
Nourollahi's passion for international experiences continued when she pursued a law degree at Georgia State University College of Law. During the spring semester of her second year, she studied at Aarhus University in Denmark, through an exchange program with the College of Law.
Since then, Nourollahi has emerged as a shining star in the realm of international education.
"I made an effort to befriend and assist international exchange students who came to Georgia State Law after returning from Denmark and encouraged other law students to go abroad, so receiving recognition for something I am so passionate about is an amazing feeling,” she said.
This accolade celebrates Nourollahi's extraordinary accomplishments and her profound impact on the world of global education.
Her international experience in Denmark further highlights her accomplishments, where she achieved outstanding grades in both International Contract Drafting and International Law while studying at Aarhus University.
“I had the chance to learn from professors all over the world, in unique classroom settings, under different grading scales, and with varied testing styles,” she said.
Nourollahi was also selected for the Atlanta Bar Association’s 2021 Minority and Diversity Clerkship Program. She served as a summer associate at Burr & Forman where she participated in an externship.
Nourollahi's study abroad experiences transported her to distant corners of the globe. From immersing herself in the splendor of Norway, Sweden, Switzerland and the Czech Republic to navigating the November floods in Venice, Italy, each destination became a chapter in her journey. Through these experiences, she developed a deep understanding of different cultures and forged lasting connections.
“On the personal side, I gained so many life-long friends across the world, and I’ve had the opportunity to visit and host these friends in the years following my experiences. Academically, I believe studying abroad shaped me into a more open-minded, holistic, and curious student.”
Nourollahi's professors, peers, and mentors were deeply impressed by her academic excellence, cultural sensitivity, and commitment to making the world a better place. Georgia State Law’s Visiting Assistant Professor Rose Rameau has been instrumental in Nourollahi’s international experiences.
“She took my International Business Transactions course in fall 2022 and was an excellent contributor. I had incorporated my travels and other activities into the curriculum,” Rameau said.
Rameau mentioned that Niki was among those who fully embraced one particular opportunity – an invitation for the entire class to participate in the Global Arbitration Review Live AtlAS conference in fall 2022. During the conference, Niki was a dedicated attendee, present throughout each day, and diligently recording extensive notes from various panels.
Since then, Rameau has become a mentor and someone Nourollahi respects and admires. Although Rameau’s course was not easy, Nourollahi managed to still receive an A in her class where she presented international case studies.
“Professor Rameau’s stories of her past arbitrations and cases abroad were so fascinating to me, and I was in awe of her drive, perseverance, and success,” Nourollahi said.
Rameau applauds Nourollahi for making her international experiences a priority as it attributes to her overall outlook as an attorney.
“I think this was probably one of the best initiatives she could have taken in the preparation for a career in international law. Niki will go very far because she has a go-getter attitude,” Rameau shared.
Nourollahi recently began a new role as an associate attorney in the Corporate & Tax practice group at Burr & Forman, with a concentration in securities transactions.
“Particularly after my exchange in Denmark, I’ve found that it is more natural for me to share my experiences with other legal professionals, and it often opens doors for continued conversations. I can see things from a different perspective than before, and this helps me deliver a better work product.”
-Written by Maya Carpenter