Student Spotlight: Ayoola Fadahunsi ’25

Ayoola Fadahunsi, a Nigerian-American student who hopes to practice law in the immigration and refugee realm, credits Brown for expanding her horizons.


Virginia Beach, Virginia


International and Public Affairs & English

Ayoola Fadahunsi, a junior concentrating in International and Public Affairs (IAPA), on the policy and government track, was drawn to law and criminal justice from an early age. In elementary school, she was introduced to the Legal Studies Academy, a specialized high school that exposes students to the complexities of the legal and criminal justice systems. "I knew I wanted to pursue that path," said Fadahunsi, who ended up graduating with multiple honors from the academy. "I met people from the FBI and the Naval Criminal Investigative Service. I attended federal and state court hearings and visited Washington, D.C. frequently. It fueled my passion for law." 

One of the things that particularly attracted Fadahunsi to Brown was its reputation for advancing academic excellence through a student-centered model. Talking with Brown students about their academic and co-curricular experiences and learning about the Open Curriculum and Brown's need-blind financial aid program confirmed for the first-generation college applicant that Brown was the right place for her. 

"Brown is so welcoming, with so many organizations and spaces for undocumented students and students of color," she said. "This is the first time in my life I've had friends with similar backgrounds. There's always a space for my voice to be heard." 

Although Fadahunsi knew she wanted to study law, Brown expanded her horizons to focus on refugee and immigration law. She said that professor Nina Tannenwald's Introduction to International Relations "changed the trajectory of my path. I realized that I could go broader with my interests. I'm now drawn to the international realm," said Fadahunsi.

This year, she's intrigued by Tannenwald's International Law and Politics of Human Rights class, and Watson Postdoctoral Fellow Blair Sackett's seminar, Displaced: How Global Systems Shape Refugee Families because of the seminar's focus on the familial and holistic impacts of immigration. Fadahunsi added, "I'm interested in refugees' experiences, the larger issue of migration and how immigration and refugee laws shape lives."  

During a study abroad semester, Fadahunsi and a classmate conducted ethnographic research in Copenhagen, Denmark, and wrote a book, "Where is my Fairytale: Danish Immigrant Literature and its Socio-political Limitations." Calling the research project "very fruitful," Fadahunsi said, "We interviewed refugees, migrants, ex-patriots and students studying abroad to learn more about immigration and movements of people. Over the years, I hope to expand that research to include more such stories." 

At the Danish Institute of Study Abroad, she took four classes, including one in international refugee law and another in international humanitarian law. On one class trip, she visited the United Nations Office in Geneva, met people investigating human rights violations in Myanmar, and explored the role humanitarian nongovernmental organizations play in immigration. "This experience further opened my eyes to future career paths in this field," she said.

“ My experiences at Brown, including my classes and my wise professors, have equipped me with the foundational knowledge of the world's problems. They opened my eyes to ways I could contribute to making people's lives better. ”

Ayoola Fadahunsi IAPA Class of 2025

Another aspect of Brown that Fadahunsi appreciates is the breadth of language offerings at the school. While she speaks Yoruba exclusively with her family members, she has less experience with it as a written language. "I want to preserve the language and culture," she said. "I could only speak and read Yoruba, as there are a lot of tonal markings in the written language. I'm perfecting my writing in a Yoruba class at Brown. It's a privilege to have so many languages taught here."

Before law school — with top choices including Columbia, Yale and Northwestern –– Fadahunsi hopes to spend a year on a Fulbright Scholarship. 

"My experiences at Brown, including my classes and my wise professors, have equipped me with the foundational knowledge of the world's problems. They opened my eyes to ways I could contribute to making people's lives better," said Fadahunsi. "While I'm still figuring it all out, I know I want to practice law, perhaps at the International Criminal Court or representing and advocating for refugees and immigrants."