|19 Jul 2023
|2023 Finalists Global Student Prize
Onyinye grew up in a rural community in eastern Nigeria, walking to her community public school every day. Dreaming of becoming a lawyer to curb injustice in the world, she understood that education was the route to a better life. This motivated her to become the best student in her primary school, where she won almost all the academic and leadership awards. With admission to a mission secondary school, she completed her secondary education with seven distinctions and was then accepted to study law at Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka, one of the most prestigious public universities in Nigeria. Her childhood dream of being a lawyer is well on the way to becoming a reality.
During her time as a law student, Onyinye has helped her fellow students in a variety of ways. As Regional Director for Law Students in Nigeria she hosted and organized programs, projects and policies for over 12,000 students across 13 law faculties in Nigeria, including programs on mental health, academic growth, self-awareness, leadership skills and career development. As a result she was elevated to the judiciary of her school, where she has served as a mediator, settling disputes between students. In addition to these activities, Onyinye founded the Kate Centre for Arts and Creativity (KACAC), an organization that inspires, nurtures and promotes creativity and innovation among teens and young people in Nigeria. Through KACAC, Onyinye teaches teenagers and young people how to solve real-life problems in creative ways. In 2021, KACAC partnered with the Anambra State Ministry of Education to make a film with secondary school students on the dangers of examination malpractice – which was then distributed to students in the state as an effective way of educating them on the issue.
During her undergraduate studies, Onyinye also founded Lawsanaid – an initiative that provides an enabling platform and access to better quality education for law and aspiring law students with disabilities. She was moved to do this after an encounter with a visually impaired law student who told her of the challenges he was facing as a disabled law student in Nigeria – including inaccessible facilities and equipment, lack of study materials, and discrimination. Today, Lawsanaid serves over 200 law students in Africa, supporting them in their academics, providing them with study materials, and helping them with access to scholarships.
If Onyinye wins the Global Student Prize, she will use to funds to (a) invest in the Lawsanaid trust fund to ensure that students with disabilities do not have to leave school due to lack of funding; (b) scale up her social enterprise, Nobox (an app that promotes and simplifies STEM education in Africa); (c) invest in her water company to provide access to clean and safe drinking water in her community; and (d) renovate a school in her community in order to make its facilities more accessible for people with disabilities.