Law School Grad Profiled by Tampa Tribune

When Adedayo Banwo (2002) graduated from law school this year, it was more than his latest success. It was the best Mother’s Day present he could give.

The following is excerpted from the Tampa Tribune. To read the full article, visit the Tribune’s site.

TAMPA – Nine years ago, Adedayo Banwo’s world was centered in a tiny apartment at Robles Park Public Housing Complex, where he lived with his mother and brothers. He was surrounded by poverty and divisive influences. Still, he clung to a dream.

Somehow, he saw the potential for so much more.

Today, Banwo graduates from Duke University’s School of Law.

”I guess there’s an obvious question,” said Banwo, 25. ”How did I get here?”

How did he go from having no money to winning the prestigious Park Scholarship, a full ride worth $100,000, at North Carolina State University?

How did he go from riding city buses around Tampa to completing a master’s degree in philosophy and law at Cambridge University in England?

How did he go from a door-to-door pitchman, persuading local businessmen to subsidize his participation in statewide high school debate contests, to a college student who trades e-mail and phone conversations with Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas?

”I’m not sure if the word ’unique’ is good enough to describe Adedayo,” said Jim Coleman, a professor of law at Duke, who utilized Banwo as his research assistant. ”His self-confidence is amazing.”

It doesn’t surprise Banwo’s mother, Patricia.

”He was always so convincing, a real go-getter,” said his mother, secretary for the principal at an alternative school. ”At 12, he knew he wanted to go to college. He knew we didn’t have the money. He would cry, and I’d encourage him. If you keep doing the right thing, keep studying, keep reading, Adedayo, a way will be made for you.”

Adedayo is a Nigerian name, meaning, ”God has crowned me with happiness.”

Today, Patricia Banwo boards a flight to Raleigh-Durham International Airport in North Carolina. She thought she would need to drive through the night to witness her son’s graduation. But the Carrollwood Bar Association, another organization that has befriended Adedayo, purchased her plane ticket.

A way was made for her.

”It’s my best present for Mother’s Day,” she said. ”I can’t help but get emotional and cry. Adedayo knew what he wanted. No matter what, he wasn’t going to settle.”

Nine years ago, Banwo began his unlikely ascension…