UCF Alumnus Uses Political Science Degree in More Ways than One

Rishi Bagga 2At the age of 20, Rishi Bagga, ’03, graduated from UCF with a bachelor’s degree in political science, and he never thought he would use it in so many different ways. Eleven years later, the successful attorney has now worked in various fields of law, politics and hospitality.

After graduating from UCF, Bagga moved to Washington D.C to receive his J.D. degree at American University, Washington College of Law. From there he headed down to Miami to work as a prosecutor for the State of Florida. His efforts ranged from working with a domestic violence unit, to juvenile crimes and felonies and then to narcotics prosecution. He later received a grant to go back to American University to acquire his Master of Laws degree, focusing on law and government.

In 2010 Bagga returned to Orlando with his LLM to work as an attorney for the Democratic Party’s voter protection unit in the 2010 election. He then bravely put all the money he had into opening his own practice in Orlando. After a year and a half at his firm, Bagga was offered a position with a law firm in Miami. And after spending over a year there, he returned to Orlando in February of this year. Bagga now works as an attorney at his own firm, primarily focused on commercial litigation. He also serves as a general council in the family business at the Radisson Orlando hotel which is right down the street from UCF.

Looking back at his journey to success, Bagga admitted it wasn’t always a smooth road. He remembers pounding the pavement for months after receiving his LLM degree. Bagga explained, “When you’re on such a quick path you don’t realize that there are deviations, so when you have to deviate it hits you even harder. Something important to learn is that you don’t always know what’s going to happen. You have to roll with the punches and stay flexible.”

Bagga is happy to be back in Orlando, close to his family and alma mater. He admits dividing his time between his law firm and the hotel business has him far more relaxed than he was six months ago. Although he loves his work, Bagga explained he has a lot of things he hopes to do one day. And being a lawyer is more of a step than a destination.

Here are a few responses to the lightning round of questions we asked to get to know Bagga.


  • How has your experience at UCF helped you in your career?

It’s helped me in many ways. I went to a relatively large law school and was used to navigating in a larger class thanks to UCF. I had a lot of positions at UCF and that helped me make friends quick, get involved and learn how to stand out in a large group of people quickly. I met so many people from various walks of life at UCF. I don’t think a lot of the people who went to smaller colleges were exposed to the variety of backgrounds and types of family backgrounds you find at UCF. The diversity at UCF is unparalleled. You end up knowing people who are from everywhere and all kinds of backgrounds. Learning how to stand out and finding your niche in a big group is very important.

  •  Were you involved in any extracurricular activities at UCF?

As a freshman in college, I was the first and founding president of UCF Liberty Knights student organization. I was a Libertarian back then. When I was majoring political science, I was a member of the UCF mock trial team and we were one of the first teams to compete in nationals. I was also a student government senator for what was the College of Arts and Sciences at the time. I was really involved with my fraternity Phi Gamma Delta and was the recording secretary for my chapter.

  • What is your best UCF memory?

I have so many to choose from based on my experiences with my fraternity, SGA, and mock trial team. One that stands out is my first spirit splash. I was one of the few people with a cell phone at the time. I wasn’t going to go in but I got dragged in by my friends. We spent the entire day there and I realized I had my cell phone in my pocket, but I didn’t even care. That is one thing I will not forget.

  • What is your most memorable experience on the job?

Some of my most memorable legal experiences were prosecuting. One thing I’ll never forget is when I first became a lawyer. When I was in high school I was a national championship level debater. Then when I came to UCF I was really involved in the mock trial team and in college I was a moot court champion. So I thought I could speak in front of anyone and make any kind of argument, but I was wrong. When I passed the bar I was 23 years old. I went to Miami and I got sworn in as an attorney and I was all excited. An hour later the chief of my unit came to my office to congratulate me. He put a box down on my desk of 30 files and told me I was on in court in an hour. I organized the files and rushed to court, not knowing exactly what was going on. I had to set the bonds for thirty guys and for weeks after all this preparation and talking, I couldn’t talk in court. I was so scared.

  •  What piece of advice would you give to current students as well as UCF alumni?

Get involved in absolutely every little thing you can. I think I went to half of the things I heard about at UCF, and I wish I went to all of them. Half of my education was in classrooms the other half was going to other meetings and being part of trial team and being part of SGA. The things that I learned from that were just as valuable, if not more valuable. Those are the real opportunities I would tell anyone to follow.




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