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From the University of Lagos to Harvard: How I got into Harvard Law School - Ezomime Onimiya

Updated: May 17, 2022

Scholars Spotlight is a weekly series by GetInedu that explores the stories of successful grad school applicants and their journeys to securing scholarship offers for graduate school. We discuss their reasons for applying, the peculiar challenges they faced, their application strategy, and their lives post-application success.

Everyone has dreams. Some scary and some so big, you would think the person was crazy. In today’s Scholars Spotlight, our scholar and 2019 GetIn Bootcamp alumna, was not afraid to dream big and fight for her dreams while afraid. She shares her story of achieving her dreams from the University of Lagos to the Ivy League Harvard Law School!

Ezomime knew what she wanted for her life right from her days at the University of Lagos, where she graduated with a second class upper in Law. Her dream was to get her masters degree from an Ivy League University. Upon completion of her studies, she proceeded to the Nigerian Law School where she graduated with a First Class. It was no easy feat, but her dreams stayed in front of her eyes. As she began building her work portfolio, in 2018, she joined the very first set of the GetIn Bootcamp. Armed with the tools to put in stellar applications, in 2019, she took the first plunge into the world of applications. In her words, “It was hard. I was working a full-time job in a very fast-paced law firm. I would come back home and spend hours writing essays and submitting applications''. At the end of the application cycle, she applied to six schools, and got into five schools, receiving one rejection from Harvard University. Ezomime recalls that she was broken. “I remember calling Mariam to cry about it.” Rejections are like a punch to the gut, however, Ezomime wiped her tears and got up to do what was necessary.

In 2020, she decided to go in again. This time, with even stronger applications. In hindsight, she realized she had rushed her applications in 2019, not giving enough thought to her purpose and focus. During this cycle, she wanted to show how focused she had been on her goals right from her undergraduate days to her work experience. As she penned down the receipts of her academic excellence, she focused on relating everything to her goals. “Everything I wrote tied into my goals. I used the tips and tricks learned from GetIn’s course to present my story. If I couldn’t make a connection, I excluded it. I was particular about convincing the admissions committee that I was focused.”. At GetIn, we call this the “One Document Strategy,” the ability to paint one single story from all the application documents you are required to submit. To keep herself motivated, she set targets and milestones using a reward system to "ginger" her further. “I set up small achievable targets and told myself I will only go out or reward myself with something nice if I achieved my goal. I also started earlier this time, around September. I knew what I needed to do, so I set up those small milestones to motivate myself to finish well in time to submit”. In this journey to graduate school, focus and determination are the watchwords!

Ezomime's golden opportunity came on a random early morning at 4 am after a night out with friends. She got an email from the admissions office informing her a decision had been made. Seeing this meant that the decision could have gone either way; she needed some support to brace for whatever was coming. “I called my sister in Canada, knowing she might be awake. I remember telling her I was nervous. She said she would stay on the call with me as I checked. I opened my laptop and was covering my eyes while my sister screamed at me to check it. I saw the Congratulations and didn’t even wait to read anything else. I had gotten in! It was an amazing feeling I will not forget soon”.

Ezomime’s story is evidence that your dreams are both valid and achievable. However, strategic planning is required in this journey. Think about having a Plan A, B, and C. For Mime, her backup was to apply to non-ivy league schools that equally had great funding potential. “I had a backup plan and applied to Northwestern University School of Law which has an excellent funding package. They actually offered me 80% off, and it was my second choice. I learned from the previous experience that it is always good to have back up”. Choose and decide on your country of choice and give it a 101%. For her, the US was her target with its Ivy league schools and better funding options.

Without GRE scores or IELTS, it may have seemed impossible for Mime to receive 92% funding from Harvard University. She, however, had a strategy. She mentions that she was surrounded by people who were doing a lot at the University of Lagos. This rubbed off on her, and she also got busy with relevant extracurriculars. She was selected for the student union committee and was also the director of research for the tax club which was doing big things across Nigeria. These activities gave her impressive receipts to show in her essays. “Find available opportunities, even in your office, and volunteer for projects that are special and relate to your proposed field of study. I took on extra tasks that I knew would look good on my CV and essays”.

All of us can do more for ourselves. If you have ever been rejected and you’re wondering what you can do to make a difference. Ezomime shares with us a word of advice: “Start early so that you are not rushed. Even if it is getting your documents in order on time. Give as many people as you trust to review your documents, whether they are people who have gone before you or people who have some experience in this field. You also need to know how to spice up the experiences you have had in the past, whether small or big. Packaging is critical, don’t discard anything”. If you did not get it in the previous year. “Don’t just wait; start gathering experience for the next stage. You know the persona you need to have, so find things that will help boost that to have more details to write in terms of experience or extracurricular”.

We are so proud of Mime and cannot wait to hear even more about the fantastic goals she will smash in the future!

If you want to learn proven strategies to secure juicy admission offers with scholarships, ensure you sign up for our Bootcamp! Click here to join the Bootcamp. We launch the first cohort in the first week of June.


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