Black Student Leaders: Spotlight on Enny Olaleye (2L)
In commemoration of Black History Month, UW Law would like to recognize the leadership and voices of Black student leaders in our community. Their powerful voices are a subset of a group that represents the social and systemic change that needs to happen in our school, our nation and around the world.
Black students at UW Law have the opportunity to join a community called the Black Law Students Association (BLSA). According to its constitution, the purpose of BLSA is to harness the collective resources of student members to:
(1) Articulate and promote the professional needs and goals of Black law students; (2) Foster and encourage professional competence; (3) Focus on the relationship between the Black law student and the Black attorney within the American legal structure; (4) Instill in the Black attorney and Black law student a greater awareness and commitment to the needs of the Black community; (5) Influence the legal community to bring out meaningful change to meet the needs of the Black community; (6) Adopt and implement a policy of economic independence; and (7) Encourage Black law students to pursue careers in the judiciary.
BLSA president Gabryelle Matz-Carter (2L) applauds members “who have shown an exemplary level of passion for both our coursework and the impact we can make in the community with the knowledge and understanding we’re gaining” at UW Law. Our first student highlight is on Enny Olaleye, who serves as BLSA Vice President. We connected with Enny about her experiences, aspirations and inspirations, both within the law school and beyond.
UW Law: Tell us about your background and current activities.
Olaleye: My name is Enny Olaleye and I am currently a second-year law student at the University of Washington School of Law. I am originally from Wake Forest, North Carolina. In 2021, I graduated from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte with a Bachelor of Science in Public Health and Bachelor of Arts in Political Science with a minor in Business Communications.
Before I started at UW Law, I had the opportunity to intern with North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper as a Policy Intern throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as work as a Progression Intern Associate for the Carolina Refugee Resettlement Agency, a non-profit that focuses on providing refugees and asylees with assistance for a smooth transition to the United States. This past summer, I had the opportunity to split my summer and work as a Summer Associate for both FedEx Ground and Microsoft Corporation. This upcoming summer, I will be heading to Washington D.C. to work as a Summer Associate for Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP.
UW Law: How has being part of the Black Law Students Association (BLSA) supported you?
Olaleye: BLSA has been instrumental to my success at UW Law. To be surrounded by peers who are also passionate about the legal profession has allowed me to be a part of a support system that is incredibly unique. Black lawyers make up about 5% of the legal profession. Meanwhile, it is imperative for those either currently placed or aspiring to be placed in positions of power in the legal profession to reflect the world as it is today.
One of my first experiences at UW Law was meeting the BLSA executive officers (at the time) at the annual RSO Fair and receiving advice that was instrumental to how I navigated my first year of law school. By the end of that first year, I knew I wanted to take a more active role and provide that same support system I was fortunate to have as a first-year student. My current role as the Vice President of BLSA is an opportunity I've come to cherish as I approach the latter half of my law school journey.
UW Law: What do you hope to do with your law degree after graduation?
Olaleye: After law school, I hope to continue working in the private sector and grow my practice in the areas of privacy law, healthcare transactions, as well as government ethics and compliance. However, I also wish to center myself in prominent pro bono work, particularly in preserving voter rights in underserved communities and ensuring proper representation for those negatively impacted by the justice system.
UW Law: Is there a black leader who has inspired you?
Olaleye: Yes. I’d like to acknowledge leaders both outside and within UW Law. From a wider standpoint, I want to highlight Bakari Sellers, former member of the South Carolina House of Representatives and son of prominent civil rights leader Cleveland Sellers. Recently, I had the opportunity to moderate the Q&A session of his "Coffee Talk" Session at the law school, as well as see him as the keynote speaker for the Washington Bar Association's annual MLK Jr. Celebration. To hear him share his journey on how he got to where he is today, as well as provide guidance on how to navigate law school as a Black person, was very interesting to hear and the advice I gained from that conversation is something I will always remember as I continue with my future endeavors.
Additionally, within UW Law, I want to give a shout out to every member of the UW Law Black Law Student Students Association, who never cease to amaze me in their respective endeavors and successes. Particularly, I would like to highlight our BLSA President, Gabryelle Matz-Carter (3L), who has worked tirelessly to uplift BLSA to such a high level of prominence and has also provided multiple avenues of support and guidance for all of the BLSA members since starting as a 1L Representative.