Taofikat Ninalowo: determined to have an impact

Taofikat Ninalowo. Photo by Brian Vandervliet.

Taofikat Ninalowo. Photo by Brian Vandervliet.

By Brandi Palmer

When Taofikat Ninalowo came to the U.S. from Nigeria, she was determined to have an impact on poverty in the world. She moved to Peoria, Illinois, from Nigeria, Africa, at age 17. In Illinois, she enrolled at Illinois Central College, then moved to a larger school, Illinois State University. In Illinois, she launched a UNICEF program to bring awareness to the plight of poverty. Being from Nigeria, Ninalowo said she had not known the extent of the problem of poverty in the U.S. As an undergraduate student studying business administration, she began to see a career in law as a way to have an impact on people’s lives, and decided to pursue law school.

“I chose Stetson because of its reputation for advocacy and legal writing, skills that translate into a good lawyer,” said Ninalowo.

One of 10 siblings scattered across the U.S., Ninalowo is unique in her pursuit of law. Her brothers and sisters work in varied fields: in medicine, engineering, acting, filmmaking, and information technology. Ninalowo’s parents worked hard to send their children from Nigeria to the U.S. to complete their college educations.

At Stetson, Ninalowo is pursuing both a J.D. and M.B.A. degree. She is a member of the Dispute Resolution Board, a research assistant for professor Ellen Podgor, and a teaching assistant for professor Joseph Morrissey. She traveled this spring to the Willem C. Vis International Commercial Arbitration Moot in Austria, Vienna, as a student coach with the Vis team, and said she wants to come back to help the team as a coach or a judge after graduating in May. 

Ninalowo said she spent her time at law school exploring all the options, working in a public interest law firm, with Burr & Forman, in-house at Overseas Shipholding Group Inc., and with U.S. Magistrate Judge Julie Sneed. She discovered that the emotional toll of working on eviction cases was not a good match.

“I came to law school focused on public interest work, but developed into an advocacy board member,” said Ninalowo.

She joined the Dispute Resolution Board to develop as an advocate. Writing briefs for competitions helped to improve her writing skills along with participating in Stetson Law’s Honors Program. As a first-year student, Ninalowo was a Student Bar Association representative and vice president of the Public Service Fellows, and in her second year, became a Stetson Student Ambassador. She tutored first-year law students in contracts, property and constitutional law, joined the Inclusive Implementation Strategy Group, and was selected as one of three student representatives for the Diversity and Inclusion Committee at Stetson.

“If you throw yourself out there, you might realize that’s what you want to be in life,” said Ninalowo. “At the same time, you can’t do it all, so be selective and don’t just jump into an organization before you know what it’s all about,” she said.

Her business background and experiences inspired her to focus on corporate litigation and transactional work.

“I enjoyed working with a bankruptcy practice group during my externship,” said Ninalowo. “Consumer litigation really interests mebringing cases for consumer plaintiffs.”

In May, Ninalowo’s parents Raolat and Jamiu will visit Stetson’s Gulfport campus for the first time during commencement.

“I found myself here,” Ninalowo said, looking back on her Stetson experience. “I want to give back.”