‘I never wanted to read Law’: A conversation with the 2023 Valedictorian from the University of Ghana School of Law

‘I never wanted to read Law’: A conversation with the 2023 Valedictorian from the University of Ghana School of Law.

We are delighted to present an insightful conversation with Ms. Abigail Nakuor Wowolo, the distinguished valedictorian of the University of Ghana School of Law for the year 2023. With a remarkable FGPA of 3.72, Ms. Wowolo has embarked on a captivating journey of academic excellence and personal growth. In this engaging interview, she candidly shares her experiences, challenges, and motivations, offering valuable insights for aspiring law students. Her story serves as an inspiring testament to the power of perseverance, passion, and the pursuit of holistic development.

Enjoy the read! 

Question: Congratulations on your achievement! You are the valedictorian! How has your journey been so far? How did you get here? What motivated you to pursue law?

Thank you very much. Yes, I am! Can you imagine? 

Hmm. As I mentioned in my speech, “The journey has been long…” Really, I would say it has been a rollercoaster of so many activities, emotions and scenes. The road has been a little bumpy, but the joy of being surrounded by supportive family and friends especially has made it more bearable. God has really been good to me and to my class. 

How did I get here? First, I would say my pillow has felt my frustration than any human has. *laughs*. Indeed, I can never undermine God’s role in my journey. There were times when I was this close to not studying a particular topic for exams but ended up being prompted to do so, and then I got to the exam hall and realized I would have been in hot soup had I not studied them. This and so many other events have made me appreciate how much God has helped me on this journey. So yes, I got here first by the help of God.

I would also acknowledge the role of my seniors and mentors like Vanessa Zormelo, Seth Doe, Nicole Macauley and others, who were very instrumental in directing me on how to survive in law school. Again, I am grateful to my family for their support and encouragement throughout this journey. 

Now, what motivated me to pursue law? First, in all honesty I never wanted to read Law. I always was a lover of the English Language and wanted to study that as a full course at the university. However, prior to coming to school, I decided to choose law as my first course of study because I thought it was an act of killing two birds with one stone. How so? Studying law requires that you have a strong English background and hence, that would also encourage me to ensure my English was good. Reading law was therefore not a bad option to me at the time because I still got to benefit from my love for English. So no, unlike most of my classmates who had a genuine passion for the law and particularly advocacy, I was that one looking for a course to read and hoping to succeed in it.

Nevertheless, I began to develop a genuine interest in the law as time went on. The cases, books, articles, etc. made sense sometimes. The success of my lecturers in their various fields was just so inspiring. My point is, the question is not really about what motivated me to pursue law, but more of what influenced my decision to continue reading the law even after starting off on a neutral note. 

The answer to what motivated me is this; I recognized how much impact I could make in this field and also knew I could stand up for people with the knowledge and expertise. I must admit, however, that the prestige that comes with the profession was not lost on me at all. I loved the fact that it came with some sort of privilege, reputation and money, of course. *laughs*

Amongst these reasons, principal of them is the fact that the law gives me an opportunity to object to questionable situations and treatment against persons who are treated unfairly, and this does not only go for the vulnerable in terms of women and children, but anyone anywhere who is in a position that renders them incapable of standing up for themselves. 
Another factor that motivated me to continue reading law is the fact that the study of the law makes one critical and analytical. It shapes the way you think and perceive things and this made it even more attractive to stay in the legal field to learn more and become an even better thinker. It also tests your ability to move on despite the odds and helps you develop a kind of tenacity that would stay with you for life. Hence for me, as time went on, I realized everything I went through in school was instrumental in shaping me. As a result, I never for once considered reading any other course. 

I will always say that the study of the law is not only about developing the mind and intellect, but also about developing the individual as a whole. 

Question: In addition to your academic pursuits, have you been involved in any extracurricular activities, volunteer work, or leadership roles during your time at the university?

Ohhh yes I have! As a student at the university, throughout my 4 years, I was a very active member of Royal Diadem, a department (or wing as we call it) of the Ghana Methodist Students’ Union (GHAMSU). This department is dedicated to the creative arts; dance, drama and spoken word/poetry. As one who absolutely loves to dance, I was dedicated to this wing throughout my stay on campus. In fact, almost every Wednesday and Friday between 7-11:00 pm for 4 years, I was at rehearsals getting ready for a ministration. As a result of my passion for dance and dedication as a member, I was appointed a choreography director for 2 consecutive years and in my final year, I became Vice President of Royal Diadem. I remember how overwhelmed I felt at some point knowing that my classmates were probably studying at the time when I was rehearsing for ministrations and engaging in other activities. I realize now that it was all worth it in the end. 

Again, in my 3rd year I was appointed a Class Leader of Jubilee/International Students’ Hostel by GHAMSU. A Class Leader is more of a cell leader whose task is to coordinate the activities of GHAMSU members in the hall.

Further, during my time at the university, I was appointed Chief Justice of the Jubilee Hall Junior Common Room (JCR) and subsequently made a Justice of the Students’ Representative Council (SRC). These roles also came with their own time consumption. I remember clearly how the Justices were required to sit on cases even during exams period. Those were hectic and crazy times indeed. 

Again, I joined the Noble Law Group as a Fellow of the Public Interest Law and Advocacy (PILA) Fellowship. This is an NGO that is interested in educating persons on the law and advocating for the marginalized in society. Some of the fellows are my classmates and friends who are making so much impact. I would encourage all law students in Ghana to follow this group keenly, learn from them and also express their interest when applications for the fellowship open later this year. 
Owing to the fact that I love to speak and to ensure that the law is demystified especially to the layman, I became a member of the Radio Broadcast and Legal Outreach Committee of the Law Students’ Union and was later appointed head of the committee.

Also, I volunteered at very high-profile events at the University of Ghana School of Law. These events include the programme on the improvement of Legal Education in Ghana where the President of the Republic and other dignitaries were in attendance, the programme organized for Data Protection in Ghana, among others.

In my final year, as a result of my interest in international law, I applied for a virtual internship opportunity at the Lex Lata Centre for International Law and Comparative Constitutionalism located in Nigeria. I was therefore an intern of this institution while studying for my final year in school.

Finally, I was a student of Relite Africa where I was schooled on how to be a good expositor/preacher of the Word of God. The course spanned for a whole academic year every Saturday for about 4 hours in the evening. You know, when I say time management is key, it is not really a cliché in this context because I know exactly what it means to be involved in so many activities but still be very conscious and mindful of excellence in academics. 

This, I would say, is but a summary of everything I was engaged in outside of academics during my time at the university. 

Question: Could you highlight any significant accomplishments or achievements that you're particularly proud of, both within and outside academics?

Well, quite a few I must say. First, I was very excited when I learnt I had been selected as a Scholar of the Lebanese Government and Business Community Scholarship for bright and hardworking law students for two consecutive years. Also, when I was appointed Vice President of Royal Diadem I was very humbled by the opportunity to serve.
Again, being appointed Chief Justice of the Jubilee Hall JCR as well as a Justice of the SRC were achievements I was particularly proud of. 

Question: What areas of law or specific legal topics are you most passionate about, and how do you envision using your knowledge to make a positive impact?

Honestly, this question poses a difficulty. The options keep changing as I encounter and study more fields of law with each passing day. I would say therefore, that for now, I am most passionate about natural resources law. To make a positive impact, I would strive to advocate for sustainable practices and conservation efforts. I would work towards ensuring responsible management of resources to protect the environment for future generations.

Again, I am interested in criminal law and how it ensures justice and protects society. Through the knowledge I have and I’m yet to acquire in this area, I would work towards fair and equitable justice for all. I would advocate for criminal justice reform, promote rehabilitation programmes, and support initiatives that address the root causes of crime. I recognize the importance of striving for a system that focuses on rehabilitation and reduces recidivism. 

Nevertheless, if in the near future you encounter me in a completely different area or field of law, do not be shocked because I already issued a disclaimer on how the options keep changing. *laughs*. All I know is that I would make a positive impact and give back to society in whichever field I decide to specialize. 

Question: Reflecting on your time at the University of Ghana School of Law, are there any experiences or moments that stand out or were influential in shaping who you are today?

There certainly are. The first I would like to talk about is when our seniors graduated in 2020. When I saw the achievements of most of them, especially those who finished with a First Class Honours and the extremely high FGPAs they graduated with, as unrealistic as it seemed for me at the time, I sought to attain a similar feat.

Again, every time I looked at my lecturers, the great things they have and are still accomplishing, I was greatly inspired to do better. Indeed, ever since my batch gained admission to the University of Ghana School of Law, we have had one of our lecturers being appointed as a Justice of the Supreme Court of Ghana, another as the Deputy Minister for Trade and Industry who is currently the Deputy Minister of Energy, another as the Special Prosecutor, amongst other very impressive positions. These appointments really urged me to work harder and aim higher. I remember my friends and I moving to the car park to look at the cars lined up; a view that summed up the story of hard work, determination and discipline of our lecturers. This really urged me to press on. 

Question: How have you balanced your dedication to academic excellence with your engagement in family, social and community activities?

Throughout primary school, Junior and Senior High, to the University, I have always recognized the need to be an all-rounded individual. So yes, we were brought to school to study, but it is also up to us to ensure that we balance that goal with other endeavours that would help us become better people.

As a result of this perspective, as a student, one of the most important virtue I employed in maintaining a healthy balance was time management. It sounds cliché, doesn't it? I had to ensure that I made up for all the time I used to engage in other activities. So, for example, if I spent 3 hours at dance rehearsal, I had to make sure I studied for three or more hours the next day. Of course, sometimes I was just too exhausted to do that. But all in all, I ensured that my books were never out of sight. 

Also, one key attitude I adopted to maintain a balance was perseverance. To all those who may encounter this interview, I urge you to learn one thing; we do not give up in law school. Since I knew academics alone was not enough to take me through, I had to make sure I was pushing hard at everything I did. I also had to push hard when it came to my books. All law students can attest to the fact that there were times when we just couldn’t understand what we were reading; or we felt there was too little time to cover all the topics we had been taught before exams. We went through all those times, but come what may, we never gave up. I pushed at all costs; group studies, all-night study sessions, etc., just to ensure I was being efficient in my academics as well as extracurricular activities.  

Question: Have you faced any challenges during your academic journey, and how have you overcome them to reach the position of valedictorian?

Yes, I have, definitely. The most outstanding one I faced was on how to absorb every information we were taught especially for examination purposes. As students of the law, there’s so much we are required to read on our own, understand and even worse, get examined on. I remember clearly in my first semester of Level 100; the first paper we wrote was on Ghana Legal System. I was so scared I literally shook like a leaf. I almost went blank upon seeing the paper because the information I was required to know was just too much. Three years down the line, even in courses like Equity and Trusts, the number of cases I had read were enough to get my head to heat up. 


After my first year, I began to develop better strategies toward my academics. With the help of my seniors and mentors, I began to approach the law with better tact. I would make comprehensive notes during the semester and then study them before my papers. For the line of cases I was required to read, I would split them between my study partner and I. So, if there were 20 cases, I’d read and make notes on 10 and she would do same for the other 10. We would then exchange the notes we’ve made and study them. Again, identifying the kind of learner I am helped me a great deal. When I discovered I was an audio learner, I began to listen more to audios to enable me absorb faster and remember better. I also developed the art of understanding what was taught rather than just ‘chewing’ the information. Trust me, it helps.

Despite the strategies adopted, I wouldn’t say the challenge of absorbing everything was ever completely surmounted, only that a better strategy towards studying made it easier to learn, understand and consume as much information as I could. 

My friends also helped me a great deal. We would take strolls to clear our heads as well as try and remember what we had learnt, we would also engage in group discussions to ensure that we had a good grasp on what we had to study. All in all, I am very grateful to my friends Prisca, Elorm, Calem, Winniman, Akua, Kwabena, Comfort, and all those who helped me when I got frustrated about my inability to understand or memorize a particular topic. 

Another challenge I faced was when I got into an accident in the first semester of my third year. This happened a week before exams and ruined all my plans of revision. I was very devastated. However, I remember preparing extensively during that semester; sitting for long hours to study and making comprehensive notes. That time of preparation during the semester really helped me to revise within that little time I had. Point is, there are many unforeseeable circumstances that may arise, but if you are adequately prepared, you would sail through. 

Question: What advice would you give to incoming law students who aspire to excel academically while actively contributing to the community?

I would first advise them not to move alone in law school. Being surrounded by classmates and friends would help them to navigate their way through and also make things easier for them. 

Second, I would ask them to have mentors, seniors to look up to and seek help from. In the study of the law, no one ever gets to the top by being an island. You must have someone who has gone ahead of you to teach you a thing or two about how to survive as a law student.

Again, I would say they should discover what kind of learning style suits them best. If they are audio, visual, audio-visual or tactile learners, they must find out as soon as possible so they tailor their studying strategies to fit that style of learning. This would make it much easier for them to study effectively without much difficulty. They must also develop a strategy that would make things easier for them.

Also, they have to be extremely judicious with their time. While engaging in other activities, making friends and socializing, they should ensure that they make enough time for the law in order to avoid being overwhelmed when it’s time for exams. As much as possible, they should be time conscious in all things and at all times, mainly to avoid being overwhelmed at the end of the day.

Further, have a support system. They must have a friend or group of friends who would listen to them when they are frustrated, stressed, or emotionally drained. This is for the preservation of their mental health so they don’t fall into an abyss of depression. With this friend or group of friends, they should also ensure they have some fun and release stress when necessary. They should expand their social circle and network, move with friends who will make them productive and focused.

If they have talents, they should not side-line or desert them because they are reading the law. They should harness those talents but learn how to maintain a healthy balance.
Finally, as a devout Christian, I would recommend to all potential law students never to forget God. Whichever religion they practice; they should hold on to their faith. To all potential law students who are Christian, I would say they should hold on to God and serve Him well while on campus. 

Being a law student doesn’t have to mean you’re always surrounded by books and devoid of a social life. That’s not the test for being a serious student. You must maintain a balance while ensuring you’re disciplined and dedicated to your books and every other activity you are involved in. Have some fun, explore life, but know that you are in law school for a purpose. 

As we conclude this interview with Ms. Abigail Nakuor Wowolo, the 2023 valedictorian of the University of Ghana School of Law, we are reminded that the path to success is a harmonious blend of determination, dedication, and the pursuit of a balanced life. Abigail's journey from an unexpected start to becoming a beacon of academic achievement underscores the transformative potential of education and personal growth. Her advice resonates as a guiding light for future law students, encouraging them to forge ahead with resilience, embrace community engagement, and find their unique paths towards excellence. The University of Ghana School of Law Faculty, Staff and students extend our heartfelt congratulations to Ms. Wowolo and wish her success in her future endeavours.