Family, school, work and the law

Hard-working alum with deep NDPMA roots finishes up his undergrad in three years, now pursues law degree with an eye toward the Michigan Supreme Court.

For 2014 alum John Nachazel, Jr., attending school at 1300 Giddings Road was the continuation of a family tradition that began when his uncle Chuck Stuart started as a freshman in 1979 at Pontiac Catholic High School, which previously operated on NDPMA's current campus. His uncle's sister, Melissa, Nachazel's mother, started at PCHS two years later and graduated in 1985.

Then there's Nachazel's sister Katherine, who graduated from Notre Dame Prep in 2017, and his other sister Anna, who currently is a junior at the school. Oh, and Nachazel's uncle Chuck's four kids? They all graduated from NDP as well. So while he acknowledges that Notre Dame was transformative for him as a student (and for the rest of his extended family, no doubt), it's now in his rear-view mirror as he pursues a career in law at the University of Arizona.

"Currently, I'm the Chester Smith Scholar and a second-year law student at the University of Arizona," he said recently as part of an update for the Notre Dame Alumni Association. "Even though I was accepted by several Tier-1 law schools in the U.S., I ended up choosing Arizona because they offered me a full-tuition scholarship."

Nachazel's collegiate journey to law school at Arizona actually began in East Lansing where he attended Michigan State University.

"After graduating from NDP in 2014, I attended MSU and graduated from MSU's Honors College in three years with majors in philosophy and economics," he said. "During my three years there, I worked in the Electric Machines and Drives Laboratory in the College of Engineering's Electrical Engineering department. I also was a tutor for the philosophy department during my final year at Michigan State."

As is the case with most college students, especially during their first four years, summer internships figured prominently in Nachazel's time at MSU. In fact, during the summer after graduating from NDP, he worked in the Detroit Pistons' marketing department. Then, during his first and second summers of undergrad, he was fortunate enough to work at a law firm in the metro Detroit area. And during the summer after graduating from MSU, he worked for Michigan's Clean Water Action, a national citizens’ organization devoted to clean, safe, affordable water and the largest environmental non-profit organization in the state. He also spent this past summer working for Justice David Viviano of the Michigan Supreme Court.

Now well-ensconced at U-A as a law student, he is serving as an associate editor on the student-operated Arizona Journal of Environmental Law & Policy. He's also the vice president of the student-run Arizona Business Law Society, and he works as marketing chair of the Environmental Law Society, another student-led organization at the law school.

As if all of that isn't enough, he's looking forward to even more summer work after the current school year ends.

"I have not yet decided where I will be working this coming summer," he said, "but I'm pursuing a job with Idaho Forest Group, one of America’s largest lumber producers, located in Coeur D'Alane, Idaho. "I am also considering coming home and working for one of several Detroit-area law firms. However, after I graduate I am hoping/planning on pursing a clerkship either with the Michigan Supreme Court or in a federal trial court."

Lofty ambitions, to be sure, and there’s no doubt the hard-working Nachazel will achieve at least one of his career goals. But what does he do when he’s not learning, working or interning?

"On the rare occasions that I have free time at law school, I have been able to explore the Grand Canyon and Saguaro National Park, which is near Tucson," he said. "I have also been able to fit in visits to Phoenix, Sedona, and Flagstaff several times."

But Nachazel's favorite thing to do when he's not in a classroom is to take weekend hikes to Tanque Verde Falls just east of Tucson. "It's the only waterfall that runs year-round in the area, and to get to it you have to hike about two miles through the Coronado National Forest, which is home to some of the biggest saguaro cacti in the country."

He doesn't take those hikes alone, however. Nachazel's hiking companion is his dog, which he adopted about a year ago and has a few "issues," according to Nachazel.

"She has rather severe anxiety problems," he said. "She was found in the immense Sonoran Desert outside of Naco, Arizona, and went through three shelters and five foster homes before I got her. So while her problems are very understandable, she has improved tremendously in the year I've had her."

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About Notre Dame Preparatory School and Marist Academy
Notre Dame Preparatory School and Marist Academy is a private, Catholic, independent, coeducational day school located in Oakland County. The school's upper division enrolls students in grades nine through twelve and has been named one of the nation's best 50 Catholic high schools (Acton Institute) four times since 2005. Notre Dame's middle and lower divisions enroll students in jr. kindergarten through grade eight. All three divisions are International Baccalaureate "World Schools." NDPMA is conducted by the Marist Fathers and Brothers and is accredited by the Independent Schools Association of the Central States and the North Central Association Commission on Accreditation and School Improvement. For more on Notre Dame Preparatory School and Marist Academy, visit the school's home page at