Updated: Feb 25
"Nigeria faces a panoply of problems, but I’m optimistic that these problems can be mitigated – if not overcome – by a new generation of ambitious, empathetic, informed and considerate leaders, of which I hope to be a member."
Tomisin Ogunsanya is a JD candidate at Harvard Law School, where he will graduate in 2022. He has a Bachelor of Arts: Political Science and Economics (Emory University) and a Master of Science: Management and Strategy (The London School of Economics). He enjoys reading, going to the gym and listening to music, Afrobeats in particular. After law school, he plans to pursue a meaningful job (either in corporate law or in an international institution) with a geographic focus on Africa.
“You’re a function of your immediate environment, so try and surround yourself with people who you admire and whose traits, philosophies and values you respect.”
Tomisin grew up in Accra, Nairobi and Lagos, the second child in his home to a dad who is a businessman and a mum who is a homemaker. "I had a supportive family who encouraged me to pursue my goals and apply for competitive opportunities, despite how daunting such opportunities appeared. My parents encouraged me to be kind, ambitious and resilient, which are principles that I still strive to embody."
Who are your personal heroes?
My current heroes are Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and my father. I admire Chimamanda for her talent and social activism. I admire my father for his grace, drive and accomplishments.
What does winning look like for you?
For me, winning is achieving my goals. I’m careful to ensure that my goals are tailored to my personal beliefs and values. Goals should be subjective, and should be measured and constructed along a personal, meaningful rubric.
What is the impact you want to make?
I would like to make an impact in Lagos, Nigeria. Nigeria faces a panoply of problems, but I’m optimistic that these problems can be mitigated – if not overcome – by a new generation of ambitious, empathetic, informed and considerate leaders, of which I hope to be a member.
Given your experience and knowledge, what would be helpful for young Black people to know if they want to pursue your career?
Law schools place a premium on prior academic performance and community involvement, so cater to both... Emotional and social intelligence is a highly valued commodity, so please be conscious of, and try to improve how you relate with other people.
What are some things prospective JD students can do now to help them succeed?
Be holistic. Although you should focus on your academics, make sure you nurture your other interests and hobbies. This will make you a happier, healthier person. You will also be more competitive for job positions and university spots as a result, but consider this a side-benefit.
What are some of the mistakes you made entering your career or unnecessary obstacles faced which can be avoided?
I would have established stronger relationships with professors during my undergraduate degree, for mentorship purposes. Also, I pursued my degrees successively, and in hindsight, I would have taken a few years out in between just so I could exist in a non-academic space for an extended period of time (preferably a year or so).