This feature is part of an ongoing series celebrating the diverse array of University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School students who make up our Law School’s uniquely collegial academic community. Together, students at the University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School engage in rich academic discussions, push the boundaries of contemporary legal thought, and work collaboratively toward our shared goal of upholding principles of justice locally, nationally, and around the world.
Ayo Aladesanmi ML’23, MPA’23 is pursuing both a Master in Law (ML) degree from the University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School and a Master of Public Administration (MPA) degree through the Fels Institute of Government. In 2019, he graduated from the Georgia Institute of Technology with a degree in Economics. From 2019 to 2021, Ayo worked as a Research Economist & Planning Associate with the Atlanta Regional Commission (ARC) in Atlanta, Georgia, and served as a National Hometown Fellow in the inaugural cohort of the Lead For America fellowship program. Through the Lead for America fellowship program, Ayo joined a nation-wide community of changemakers seeking to generate pathways into civic leadership, strengthen our country’s public institutions, and create the next generation of public service leaders.
What inspired you to pursue your ML degree?
As an undergraduate economics student, I became very passionate about leveraging the role of public policy to advance the prosperity and well-being of the American public. And during my first postgraduate experience as a research economist in Atlanta, I got to research and design several new programs and initiatives that empowered metro Atlanta local governments to better serve and empower their communities.
However, being deep in the trenches of policy research, design, and implementation gave me even more questions about the relationship between private enterprise and public governance in the United States and how governments can better protect and wield collective power when advancing the interests of the public in society.
Because of what I learned in these positions, understanding the role of public institutions in solving large-scale problems and empowering underserved populations became incredibly important to me. While I am here at Penn, I’m also pursuing an MPA through the Fels Institute of Government and focusing on issues of public management, urban policy, and civic leadership.
Pursuing an ML through the Law School also allows me to better understand the legal and historical perspectives of issues that are inherently related to public governance, and how I can incorporate them into my own thinking to create public policy that is informed by a comprehensive understanding of the United States’ lawmaking and policymaking process.
What aspects of your University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School experience have you found most influential so far?
So far, the Penn Law experience has been particularly enjoyable because of the classes I’m taking, as well as the diverse nature of the student community. Within the ML curriculum, “Navigating the Regulatory State,” taught by Lecturer in Law Bill Petersen L’89, has been incredibly enjoyable. Learning about the mechanisms of regulatory law and policy has been useful not only for understanding the foundations of the United States’ administrative state, but also for understanding the importance of sound public management and governance when designing and implementing new policies, laws, and regulations.
In addition, Penn Law’s inclusive community has allowed me to feel at home attending events hosted by student groups like the American Constitution Society and Toll Public Interest Center.
How has Penn’s commitment to cross-disciplinary legal training impacted your education?
Penn’s commitment to cross-disciplinary education has greatly impacted my academic experience in two major ways. First, Penn Law’s launching and stewardship of the ML curriculum has been great to experience, as it feels like the program has become a standard for similar ones across the country. I’ve been able to learn about law from the professors and coursework, but also about its applications from accomplished professionals in a variety of fields, like criminology, social work, and medical science and ethics. The combination of academic and practical perspectives has greatly enriched the discussion within classes as well as my own appreciation for the wide-reaching effects of different kinds of law and policy.
Secondly, as a dual-degree student, the ongoing collaboration between the Fels Institute’s MPA curriculum with the Law School’s ML curriculum has been a major benefit for my graduate school experience. I entered both programs with a desire to combine the curricula in interesting ways, and both programs have been encouraging and helpful at every step in the process.
In what ways has Penn augmented your understanding of how the law intersects with the public interest?
During my time as a ML student, my goal is to gain a deeper understanding of how administrative law and regulatory policy can be used to create better economic policy, leading to improved economic and social outcomes for society.
In particular, focusing on aspects of regulatory law has been illuminating because it provides an important approach to the work of public policy and management that I haven’t been exposed to before. There’s an entire history to the body of administrative agencies within the federal government, and this history deeply informs the kinds of rules and policies that these agencies promulgate.
Even though the process of designing regulatory law and policy can seem bureaucratic and opaque to some, I’ve come to learn how these same processes are instrumental to enshrining and protecting deeply important public interests, like providing affordable and accessible healthcare to citizens, or protecting the right to vote for all Americans.
While I haven’t contributed to any pro bono projects yet, I’ve already identified a few ongoing projects I hope to help with in the future, including the Penn Housing Rights Project, Democracy Law Project, and Civil Rights Law Project.
What do you hope your University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School education will help you to accomplish?
In addition to my education in public policy and management, I’m hoping that my ML will and allow me to be an effective and adroit leader in the fields of public governance and regulatory law and policy.
My ultimate career goal is to be able to harness the influence of public institutions at any scale – local, national, or international – in order to advance the interests of the collective public and move our world toward a more just and equitable persuasion.
What is one thing about you most people don’t know?
My name is of Nigerian Yoruba origin – in Yoruba, Ayo means “joy.”
What is your favorite thing to do in Philly?
I love to adventure around Old City and appreciate all the history on Penn’s campus!