“Where are you from?” A classic get-to-know-you question that always elicits a longer response for second-year law student Maya Sanaba.
“Like I always tell people, it's complicated! I was born in Louisville, Kentucky and then moved to India when I was 11. Bangalore, specifically. I did middle and high school there, and then my family and I moved back to the U.S. when I was 19—two weeks before I went to Purdue University for college. Now my family lives in Naperville, Illinois!”
The time Sanaba spent in India ignited within her a desire to help others, especially the vulnerable. “When I moved to India, I saw a lot more poverty than we are exposed to [in the United States], and it just made me more passionate about helping kids. When I realized that minors are basically voiceless in the eyes of the law, it made me want to do something about that, and the clearest path was through law school.”
With her heart set on obtaining a legal education, she began the law school search process and ultimately landed on Iowa Law.
“I wanted to go to another Big 10 school with the same kind of feel as Purdue.” Not only did the vibrant Iowa City community reel her in, the environment within the law school solidified the culture she was seeking as well. “I just really love the people here. Everybody genuinely is so nice.” So, when “compared to other schools, [Iowa Law] checked all the boxes rather than just most of them.”
During her time at Iowa, Sanaba has been eager to make a lasting impact. Her 1L year presented her with an opportunity to do just that.
In January of 2021, “I called one of my friends and asked if she thought we would have enough people to start a South Asian Association.” After further deliberation and a bit of research, Sanaba and Ameena Chaudhry founded the South Asian Law Student Association at Iowa Law and served as co-presidents. Sanaba is currently co-president of the student organization with Apoorva Gokare. “It's called SALSA, which we thought was really cute. It’s such a fun name!”
Sanaba’s inspiration for the organization encompassed both a current opportunity and forward-thinking. “I thought it would be cool to reach out to undergrad students to get them excited about coming here and to maybe get more applications. I figured the best way to do that would be through a student organization.” SALSA is now up and running at Iowa Law with new members joining this fall.
The support for the student organization extended beyond the walls of Boyd Law Building. “I woke up one morning, and I had a LinkedIn connection request from an Iowa alum. He messaged me a few minutes later thanking me for getting SALSA off the ground and offering to help or support the student organization in any way.” This is the type of community Sanaba was attracted to when deciding between law schools, and it is a testament to Iowa’s extensive and engaged alumni network.
Sanaba spent her 1L summer, virtually, with Lathrop GPM and has accepted an offer to return for her 2L summer. Excited to be in the Twin Cities, she looks forward to biking, hiking, and doing all things nature—especially spending time around the myriad of lakes.
Without knowing for sure what type of law she wants to practice, Sanaba adores animals and would love to incorporate them into her career in some way. She was an animal science pre-veterinarian major for three semesters in undergrad and is continually interested in animal law, the EPA, and academia surrounding the topic.
With her second year well underway, Sanaba stresses the importance of a learn-along-the-way mindset. That is “what most people do, and I think that's a good way to do it.” She advises to “just take in new information and learn as you go.”