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Alumni Spotlight: Maren Chaloupka SHS Class of 1988

Q. What is your current occupation?

A. I am a trial lawyer, practicing in the areas of civil rights, personal injury and criminal defense. I live in Scottsbluff, but I go wherever my cases take me, which has included interesting places across Nebraska and as far away as Texas, South Carolina and California.

Q. Who influenced you most during high school?

A. I am afraid of leaving out any of the important people who were impactful to me! There was Gary Largo, who encouraged us to be rigorous with our research and to appreciate history; Clancy Trump, who taught us to consider that we are not alone in this world; Roger Dawdy, who as our principal, stepped into the role of our speech team sponsor so that the speech team could keep competing; Julie Newman, who was a kind and helpful guidance counselor; and Sally Sylvester, who always kept it real.

Q. What is your favorite high school memory?

A. I appreciated playing the piano for Mr. Bacon's concerts and musicals; competing on the speech team; riding with now Pastor Christy Hancock, Mike Ropp and Mr. Maxwell to District Music Contest in Chadron (and listening to Mr. Maxwell's recordings of famous concert band marches for the whole drive); and all of the press conferences in Mr. Largo's classes...I tool every class Mr. Largo offered.

Q. Describe SHS in three words?

A. In 1988? "Not air-conditioned." (But I know there are other, better three-word descriptions that fit now.)

Q. How did SHS and the teachers prepare you for college and career?

A. Gary Largo and Sharon Mensing presented a challenging class in International Relations/College Composition, integrating political science and advanced writing skills. In that class, those excellent teachers taught us how, and ultimately expected us, to organize our research and present our analysis at a pre-professional level. The rigor of that course prepared me for college, and I have continued to use my research skills throughout my career. I will always thank Mr. Largo for inspiring me to keep wanting to know more - as a trial lawyer, my curiosity is an invaluable asset.

Q. What is your greatest professional accomplishment?

A. My trial practice includes different kinds of cases and clients, but a special case was service to six innocent but wrongfully-convicted Nebraskans who served a combined 77 years in prison for a murder they did not commit.

I was their lawyer in their civil rights case against Gage County, which took great perseverance over many years and several appeals in federal court. The final verdict conclusively proved their innocence. Those clients will always be close to my heart

Q. What is something people may not know about you?

A. I once took a skeleton lesson..."skeleton" as in the Olympic sport, like the luge, only laying face-down and face-first. It was like traveling down a chute at 45 miles per hour on a cookie sheet with blades.

Q. What are some life lessons you'd like to share with students today?

A. 1 - Whatever you post on the internet (pictures, blog postings, Instagram comments, etcetera) is forever. Prospective employers, prospective in-laws, lawyers, law enforcement, all kinds of people can find it and read it.

2 - Seriously, forever. And "but I set my page to private" means nothing. Anyone whom you think is your friend can screenshot your "private" page and forward it to the world.

3 - Appreciate the teachers who challenge you. Life will only get more complicated as you enter the professional world. The stress you're feeling now will turn into resilience and problem-solving skills when you are an adult.

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