Grace Oladipo is a Social Entrepreneur and aspiring human rights lawyer. As a 2021 Fulbright-Notre Dame Law School International Rights Law Student Awardee from Ireland, she is completing a LL.M at the University of Notre Dame, Indiana. Her primary area of research interest is redesigning female incarceration.
"I never knew it could snow in March until I came to South Bend. The winter has been long, but it hasn’t made South Bend and Notre Dame less loveable. I have been at the University of Notre Dame for the past seven months and it has been the experience of a lifetime. Studying at Notre Dame has honestly been a dream come true; from the caliber of professors I interact with on a daily basis to the incredible human rights lawyers I get to call my colleagues.
My Fulbright student award is aimed at creating and equipping a different kind of lawyer. This has led me to study under professors like Professor Diane Desierto - Chair Rapporteur of the United Nations Expert Drafting Group, Professor Paolo Carozza – U.S. Member of the Venice Commission, and Professor Francisco Urbina – Representative of the State of Chile in cases before the Inter-American Court of Human Rights. Studying under these professors and many others has introduced me to the study of human rights, as well as equipped me to be the human rights lawyer I have always dreamt I would be. Their expertise, encouragement, and array of experience has been an immense contribution and investment to my future as a human rights lawyer. Through their teaching, I was awarded the Faculty Award for International Law in the Fall Semester. I have also been able to visit the Federal and State courts here in South Bend.
Outside of the classroom, I have done a lot of travelling. The first city I visited was New Jersey. Regardless of the bad rap that New Jersey gets from the media, it was a beautiful city to visit with the Six Flags Adventure Park and beautiful beaches. Travelling to Atlanta to meet old friends was one of the highlights of my time here. Seeing the birthplace of the civil rights movement, its beautiful skylines, and its incredibly massive shopping centres. Chicago has also stolen my heart. I have fallen in love with the busyness of Chicago, its beautiful museums, and adventure experiences such as The Tilt at 360 Chicago. I have attended numerous concerts of some of my favorite artists and eaten at the World’s Largest Starbucks. I have been mesmerized by the incredible food and beautiful people from all walks of life that you encounter in Chicago.
One of the most amazing things about being here is realizing that America is not just what is on the news or what I saw on Disney Channel as a child, but there is so much more to American culture, the American university experience and the American community life. I have taken part in Street Reporting through Notre Dame Television, taught an Afrobeat dance class, acted in a play by the Notre Dame Department of Film, Theatre and Television, volunteered in a center for homeless women, started learning how to play the harp, and performed at various shows on campus. I was really excited to also connect with the Irish community at the Keough-Naughton Institute on Notre Dame campus, they have been like my family away from home.
Most of all, I have grown. I have grown in my appreciation for diversity, my appreciation for the beauty that is America and the moments of struggle in American society, and I have grown in my passion for human rights law. This experience has absolutely exceeded my expectations and although I am sad to be leaving in a few weeks, I am so excited to take everything I have learnt back home to Ireland and contribute to human rights work globally.
Everything about this experience and everything I have learnt is because of the incredible opportunity Fulbright has given me and I am eternally grateful because it has changed my life."