Memme Onwudiwe is a 2L at Harvard Law School. Born in Xenia, Ohio to Nigerian and Ghanaian parents, Memme graduated from Ohio Wesleyan University in 2015. At HLS, Memme is involved with the Harvard Innovation Lab, the Harvard African Law Association, and more. In this post, Memme speaks about the opportunities for students throughout Harvard University.
The Harvard i-Lab
I am at the Harvard Innovation Lab (I-Lab), a space open to entrepreneurial-minded students campus-wide, several times a week. At the i-Lab, I work with Evisort, a start-up using artificial intelligence to help companies organize their contracts by the type of contract, the provisions included, dates, and party names. I work alongside a few fellow Harvard Law students as well as data/computer scientists from MIT and Northeastern. In my time working with Evisort I’ve had many amazing experiences, from working with the CEOs, CFOs, and general counsels who work with us as both mentors and clients, to learning the basics of machine learning algorithms. I believe the legal industry is rapidly changing, and I am excited to help push the envelope on the functionality and adoption of artificial intelligence.
Africa Policy Journal
Besides legal technology, I am also deeply interested in African topics and am always looking for ways to better engage with the continent. Therefore, when I heard of the Harvard Kennedy School’s Africa Policy Journal, I jumped at the opportunity to join. I was not at all disappointed in my involvement – the APJ has given me an opportunity to connect with African-related issues on campus at a deeper level. For example, when former Ghanaian President John Mahama visited campus for Harvard’s 2017 Africa Development Conference, I interviewed him as a 1L. It was just the two of us in the interview, a surreal experience and one I will cherish for the rest of my life. This year I will serve as Co-Editor-in-Chief of the Journal alongside a mélange of graduate students from across Harvard.
I have worked in Nigeria before, and one day hope to do so again. But one of the hurdles keeping me from feeling at home in the country is that I cannot speak my father’s language, Igbo. Therefore, I made sure to choose a law school where Igbo was an available course option, and the African Language Program at Harvard is second to none. I have begun taking courses in the language as a 2L and hope to continue until graduation. It is invaluable to not only have a teacher instruct me on the language, but also to have spaces where I can practice and connect with other students studying the language. Cross-registering classes is not as hard as one would think, the College isn’t too far away and the African Language Program is very flexible with their class scheduling. However, you can only cross-register a few courses for credit during your law school career, so choose wisely!
Be it at the Law School, the i-Lab, the Kennedy School, the College, or anywhere else on campus, Harvard offers more opportunity that any student could reasonably take advantage of; but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try to – it’s all about balance.