March 08, 2023 — When U.S. Representative Jasmine Crockett ’06 took her oath of office this year to represent Texas’ 30th Congressional District, she started a historic term in Congress. Crockett is the first African American University of Houston Law Center graduate in the school’s 75-year history to serve in the U.S. House of Representatives.
She also become the first African American woman elected as Freshman Leadership Representative, a position the Democrats added in 2016. The liaison role, an honor bestowed upon her by colleagues, is a formal position with greater access to House leadership.
The freshman congresswoman, who has a career of many firsts, encourages law students and aspiring public servants to “be willing to jump on the rollercoaster and see where the ride takes you. Because you never know. You may be on a ride to Congress.”
Crockett says her legal education helped steer her career path.
“I wanted to use my law degree in a way that would make the most impact for my community and for the future. That is what led me to become a legislator,” Crockett said.
Law was not always on the horizon for Crockett. As an undergraduate she studied business administration at Rhodes College in Tennessee. However, during senior year Crockett was recruited for the school’s renowned mock trial team and her trajectory changed, leading her to law school and Texas.
The draw to engage in politics was still in the distance. After graduating from University of Houston Law Center, Crockett worked as a civil rights attorney and a public defender in Bowie County, Texas before starting her own practice.
Her legislative political career started in 2020 with her election to the Texas House of Representatives.
Crockett attributes an election law class at UH Law Center for preparing her for a role in government. In that class, her research project focused on voter disenfranchisement and the disproportionate impact that occurs on minority communities.
“I think about legislation and how it should be crafted not only to rectify the wrongs of the past but also to make sense going forward,” Crockett said, noting the class provided a foundational understanding and historic view of voting rights.
A recent article in The Guardian named Crockett a “US voting rights champion” for the dozens of voting access and expansion bills that she wrote while in the Texas state legislature. In 2021, her efforts to protect voting rights earned her a spot on The Root 100 List of Most Influential African Americans. Protecting voting rights is a mission she carries to Congress today.
On her career journey Crockett said, “My life took a bunch of interesting turns, and those turns are why I ended up in D.C. on the federal level.”
In addition to representing the Texas 30th Congressional District in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metropolitan Area, the US congresswoman will serve on the House Committee on Oversight and Accountability and House Committee on Agriculture.
A staunch believer in the power of legal education, Crockett encourages students to explore the full gamut of career opportunities.
“Getting a legal education is foundational for almost anything you can think of doing in life,” Crockett said.
On how the University of Houston Law Center prepares its students, Crockett noted the advantage of experiential learning.
“The study of law is so different from practice of law,” said Crockett. “This is one area that UH Law Center has done really well, making sure that students are getting practical experience.”
Crockett, who attended the official ribbon-cutting ceremony for the John M. O’Quinn Law Building in 2022, shared her enthusiasm for the Law Center’s new home.
“The investment was made because we know that pure greatness is destined to come out of that building,” Crockett said.
“I want students to understand how much they are loved and supported,” Crockett added. “We believe in the Cougars. We believe in the talent that is coming through the University of Houston.”
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