Virginia Beach, VA
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.