Chinwe Ohanele, Esq.

Economics and Philosophy with a Minor in Pre-Law Major
Class of 2010
Founder of Ohanele Law Firm
Black Campus Ministries
Student Black History Club
Multicultural Center
Speech and Debate Club
Culturally Rich Experience Arts & Entertainment

If you have been given a vision, then it’s your job to bring it to light, no matter who believes it or who understands it…The vision was given to you, and so part of faith, part of working towards that destiny is believing enough in that vision that even when you can’t see the fruits of your labor, you continue moving forward, because that’s your job to bring that vision to life.”

thank you so as you know we’re using
this as a for our project
and we’re going to you know put on our
so again just a brief reminder
how i got into this project really was
about the digital narratives course we
were asked to go into the university
campus and just see if there’s something
you know we find a placard or some
memorial and went to the alumni house
myself and my friend karina and we saw
this information about william welfare
howard and mildred e jones being the
first two black students
in the 1900s
and i was like i was really taken aback
because i didn’t think about it you know
and then and part of our research we
discovered that they after they
graduated well mildred graduated sorry
in 24 there were no other black students
until the 1950s
huge gap
yeah so you know you know and just to
think that they actually came on board
during that time when there was
segregation equal but
equal and they broke that barrier down
and because of them
you’re where you are you know you’re on
their shoulders i’m here too
although i’m not from the states
originally but you know i can attend
because somebody took
the you know fortitude and and decided
i’m going to do this so we’re here today
so we’re we’re part of their legacy
yeah yeah of course
well i just want to thank you so much
for coming back and just being able to
share your story and helping us to
really push the narrative forward about
blacks and their involvement on campus
and how they’ve helped to shape the
campus to a degree you know
it’s very informal in that you know
we’re going to start with you just
introducing yourself
um your
you know your um major
where your graduating class um
and then from there i’ll just ask some
questions and hopefully you know if you
feel you can answer those questions but
there’s no pressure you know experience
a black student female student in
particular you know on campus so
thank you so much for joining us please
introduce yourself
um hi my name is chinway ohanaleh i’m a
2010 graduate of the college of the
um i graduated with a double major in
economics and philosophy and a minor in
yeah so
definitely left brain right brain
after graduating from pacific i went on
to loyal mount
for law school where i got my jd
uh and uh i’m now practicing as an
attorney in southern california um and
i’m licensed in california new york and
new jersey
um i run my own practice
where i uh provide business legal and
intellectual property services to my
clients who um are mostly entrepreneurs
who are looking to uh
push forward some kind of mission or
purpose that they feel passionate about
that’s so amazing absolutely amazing
would you say that
your time in a predominantly white
um has allowed you to be able to work
well in the field you’re not just
servicing one aspect of the national you
know of people one you know one
demographic you’re servicing all
demographics so how how can you how did
you apply what you you experienced here
at uop into the real world scenario
um so i would say
so i was an r.a on campus
i was in ra for two years in southwest
and in grace covell
because i was an r.a you know you deal
with people from different backgrounds
and you have to be able to
sometimes do some crisis management
at various times but it was an
interesting opportunity to really just
um interact with people from different
backgrounds and in addition to that i
was a member of um i don’t know if it
exists yet still but black campus
ministries um so i was a member of black
campus ministries
i was one on the student i was a student
member of the
black history month committee
um and also pretty active with the
multicultural center and did a lot of
events uh in partnership with
affinity groups and so
i think
you know
college is a lot
kind of like a choose your own adventure
where depending on you know what
organizations you’re part of um what
clubs and classes you take
that can really shape your experience
and so for me i think i ended up
choosing a very
culturally rich experience
because i wanted to interact with people
who were from different backgrounds who
had different
mindsets and understandings and i think
that that was helpful because now you
know i have a diverse client base i
can’t say that it’s 100 black or latinx
api but i do have clients from all of
those backgrounds and so i think
um that experience from pacific probably
really helped with
my sensitivity
to different cultures
i think that’s great i mean at the end
of the day we’re all human beings that’s
the main thing that you know connects us
all together so i think that’s a
wonderful um way of being able to adapt
your experiences on campus being
involved in all those different areas
and then taking it into you know the
other real world because this was still
real world right
you know partition of it as it were
as a
african-american female
on campus did you ever experience to
your knowledge any biases do you think
so i think the biases that i experienced
kind of like backhanded compliments
i entered the university of the honors
program um
and i actually ended up leaving the
honors program after the first year
um because i don’t think that
at the time they did a great job
really highlighting the benefit of it it
just felt like i was taking
additional courses just to take them
um but i remember my first
i don’t know if we were taking a tour as
the honors students like of our dorms
but i guess someone remembered my
uh entrance essay and so when they heard
my name they’re like oh are you chinwe i
was like yeah and you know they were
like oh you know your
entrance essay was so moving
and there was something about that
response that i mean i’m an immigrant
and so obviously what i was talking
about was
my experience growing up in the us as an
immigrant when a lot of people don’t
assume that you’re an immigrant being a
black woman
and so
um i think that there was a level of oh
you know how impressive how you know
unique how exotic
some would say oh that you know people
just appreciate it but i do think that
sometimes in some environments
like um
you’re a unicorn like there aren’t they
couldn’t possibly be other people like
and it’s like actually no there are
plenty of other black women who are
articulate who’s you know speak well i
was also part of speech and debate you
know and that was another thing there
barely any black people in the speech
and debate circuit
um and you just find a lot of times that
people are
overly impressed by
your abilities and things like that
so i would say that’s definitely
something that i saw
the other thing i would say is
i started as a pharmacy major so the
primary reason i started i went to
pacific was because i got into the
accelerated program and i was in the
three plus three program
when i
had issues with some of the classes
i felt like
i wasn’t getting support
i remember one
this was the straw that broke the
camel’s back i had a chemistry
course it was one of the general
chemistry courses that you know has
hundreds of students in it
and i remember doing the assignments and
struggling and i reached out to the
professor and i said hey can i come into
office hours i just have some questions
about you know some of these assignments
maybe i’m missing something and so i
made the appointment and i showed up and
there was this other um young white kid
i don’t ever remember seeing him in
um and he was seated there and i didn’t
know if he had an appointment or not but
when the professor opened her door
she spoke to the to the young man first
even though i had an appointment for
that time
and when i you know i first assisted i
said well i have an appointment for this
the professor looked at me and said well
have you done the assignments
because if you do the assignments first
i’m sure you shouldn’t have a problem
and i was like
i did all of the assignments and i’m
trying to get some understanding and the
professor was like
well you’ll have to wait
and took the young man inside and i was
seated outside for maybe 20 or so
minutes before i was just like
this is ridiculous and i left because
you know
sure i’m a student and you’re the
professor but if i’ve put in the time
to learn the material to my level best
and i’m reaching out for assistance
i should at least be directed to
some resource
and i just wasn’t and it wasn’t until
i went to the dean of the pharmacy
school to say i was leaving the pharmacy
school because i had to get her approval
to switch from college to the pacific or
from the pharmacy school to the college
of the pacific
um and she was
she was like oh you know we really don’t
want you to leave is that how can we
support you and i was like the time to
support me has passed you know i’m in my
second year i’m not on track to you know
finish the courses i need to move on to
pharmacy school and the the people who
were supposed to help me
just weren’t there you know and she’s
like well what are you gonna do now
after you you know move and i was like
i’m gonna become a lawyer and she’s like
well you can get a first degree in
pharmacy and then go and become a lawyer
and do all this stuff and i mean sure
i could have become a patent attorney
and maybe that would have been a more
lucrative direction but for you to be
giving me this advice and this feedback
at the point that i have made the
decision to leave the college of the
uh sorry the pharmacy school and
there wasn’t any direction or support
before that i think is
too late
um and i think part of the reason why
she was fighting so hard was because
i think i was the only black student in
our entering pharmacy class and i want
to ask that question actually you know
because that’s one of the things
on our journey throughout this research
black people are represented
more represented in certain areas but
not in others you know and so those
engineering and pharmacy you know
what what is it like so thank you
because that was part of my question and
i do i do i i can i too identify with
some of the um issues that you you’ve
shared there about
not necessarily being
seen do you know
yes yeah
so how so
so that was that experience but then
you’ve obviously moved on and you
majored in just remind me again economy
economics philosophy and philosophy yeah
and then pre-law minor
pre-law so um
you obviously shined
so did you feel that you got assistance
when you moved over
into this new area
areas sorry
think that um
what was
great about when i moved over to the
college of the pacific had more to do
with who i was assigned to
um for my advisors and i think less to
do with the college itself because i do
know that there are other students who
black or um minorities who had you know
were in the college of pacific and
didn’t necessarily have the same
experience as i do
or i did and part of that was you know
with the pharmacy school each professor
has maybe 12
15 students that they’re advising but in
the college because it’s one of the
biggest colleges
you have one professor maybe they’ll
have 30 40 50 students that they’re
advising so there isn’t time to really
have a conversation about well what do
you want to do
or what are you hoping to do or what
kind of courses have you felt you
succeeded at you know that sort of
individualized ex um attention
i was lucky because
in the philosophy department my
advisor was eleanor woodruff
and she was also one of the professors
that i had i think before i even
switched out of pharmacy because
philosophy and economics were actually
the courses were electives for the
pharmacy program so that’s how i got
exposure i took them i think
my second semester
of um
my first year and i really liked them
and then i decided that i was going to
take some of the courses
that i needed for the pharmacy school
over the summer so that i could sort of
get a little bit ahead and when i took
those courses over the summer i still
enjoyed it so
having professor woodruff and then um oh
what’s his name
the economic the head of the economics
i can see his face in my head he has
like a really long white beard um he
kind of looks like santa claus um he’s
very friendly and even though i knew he
had a lot of students that he was
advising he gives you that time right
he’ll he’ll ask you what are you working
on what’s your trajectory it wasn’t
obviously as in depth as some of the
as what i experienced in pharmacy but at
least you could tell he was trying
um and i also think that
what helped me was the fact that i was
doing well in those classes and i showed
up and i asked questions and i was
engaged and so
i think that helped because then the
professors were like okay this is
someone who’s really interested and
engaged we’re going to support her and
so i’ve got a lot of that support i
would say more support from the farm
from the philosophy than the economics
department just because
i may have been one of the only black
students in the philosophy department
like if i’m being honest um
so i think there was just a lot of
encouragement to the point where
my philosophy professors were saying
that i should have gone to
do a phd in pharmacy or sorry in
philosophy um when i was considering law
school but i didn’t want to take the gap
year to do like research so you know i
went on to do law school but
i really think
my experience in the college of pacific
had more to do with who my professors
um who my advisors were yeah right so
if you were
um gonna advise any um i’m gonna be more
specific african-american females or
black females attending uop what would
you advise them to help them to kind of
overcome some possible issues they may
have or just to be successful in their
college career
i think that if you can develop a
relationship with at least one professor
who you feel like you can be
your authentic self with
will go a long way
one of the first professors who
i really connected with was professor
hernandez who is in the she’s in the
college of the pacific but i think she’s
in the sociology department um or ethnic
studies if they rolled them into
each other
um and she taught this class called race
gender and ethnicity
oh who’s that me or you i think it’s you
hold on
i don’t know where that is coming from
that’s so bizarre
that was so strange i’ve never
seen a call come in on my phone or in my
computer not on my phone
that was so strange my apologies that’s
okay that’s okay
wow uh
okay that was strange
yeah so she was she was a young
professor um she just graduated with her
phd i think pacific was maybe her first
or second position um and i remember i
think she was in like her late 30s or
something so
she was so cool i was like she’s the
black woman and she’s young and she’s a
professor and she’s so smart
um and i did well in her class and so
any time i was having any issues um she
was always kind of the person that i
would reach out to
and then of course professor woodruff
down the line but i would definitely say
as you’re going through classes
see if there are professors who
you feel like really see you and
understand you
um and then
your advisor or the professors in your
you know in your
aren’t supportive you can go to them and
ask you know how can i navigate this
because there’s a level of politics for
professors too and they sort of
understand how these things work
and so they can sort of point you in the
right direction
um when you’re feeling kind of lost wow
thank you so much for that that’s really
very helpful information really to share
i think we come into college we’re not
quite sure what to expect and then we
hit the road running and we’re like
there’s no time and you know so it’s
kind of difficult
i just think i took a couple more things
you double majored and minored
yet you were involved in black campus
ministries student uh was it student
black history club multicultural center
speech and debate where did you find the
time to study
and do all these things
yeah and i didn’t even mention that for
my last two years i was a part of arts
and entertainment i was the event
coordinator my junior year
i so
i i operate well when i’m busy i i don’t
really like having just like empty empty
um i’m kind of like that even now like i
run my own law firm but i have a bunch
of other things that i do on the side
um and i think
i don’t know if it’s necessarily like a
healthy thing
if i’m being honest but i i just
function well when i have i’m you know i
have a lot of things that i’m juggling
so like for example i had two part-time
on-campus jobs and so i would yeah
and my last year was three actually
because i worked at the university
center too when it first opened but i
think for me i just i’m very
um uh schedule oriented you know like
i’d use my calendars i’d use my planners
and so
you know i would do my homework and i
had when i had down time i would read
and review and
i just kind of made it work um
you know i had to pay for law school
applications which is part of the reason
i had three jobs last year so
you also know what you’re working
towards right so i think that once
you’re kind of clear on your objective
you can
you can you can make the time i will say
i i graduated just short of honors like
i think i had a 3.4 something
i don’t know necessarily if i had worked
less i would have graduated with a
higher grade because part of that was
moving from the pharmacy program over to
you know the college of the pacific so
you know those grades were usually lower
than the
other courses so i do think that that
was part of it um so if there’s one
thing that maybe i i might be frustrated
about is the fact that i didn’t graduate
with honors but then at the end of the
day like no one asks you nobody cares
after you’re done you know you start
working um nobody cares if you graduate
with congress so you graduated that’s
the main thing and exactly you’re saying
3.4 that’s still a very good
that’s still really good achievement so
congratulations on that
my last thing for you then would be
a quote something that encouraged you
something you heard or read that you’d
like to share to encourage
other students coming in
so this this isn’t a quote that i’ve
heard but um
i’m going to try and
and condense it
so i’m i’m christian
i believe that everyone is given
how am i going to say this okay so
you have been given a vision
then it’s your job to bring it to light
no matter who believes it or understands
because it’s not their job to understand
it the vision was given to you
right and so part of faith part of
working towards that destiny is
believing enough in that vision that
even when you can’t see
you know the
the fruits of your labor that you
moving forward
because that’s that’s your job to bring
that vision to life
wow that’s amazing powerful words
thank you so much i think that we forget
that you’re actually bringing tears to
my eyes and we forget
we get so lost in the
everything that’s going on that we think
the words keep coming i can’t i can’t
when in fact with all with with god all
things are possible so you can yeah
because he gave you the vision in the
first place
powerful words
you know thank you so much for your time
i you are a busy lady
do you ever plan on coming back to uop
at all
as an alone
i was um
i was the black alumni
president for like
oh yeah that’s how i know marshay right
at one ricky boylan stepped down i was i
think i was the second or the third
black alumni president and i was the
president for like three years or
something so i was actually on campus
quite a lot
um i haven’t been on campus recently
because i live in los angeles and so um
i’m just not around that often but um
i mean i’d love to come back one of the
things i’m hoping to do is just i want
to do more speaking and encouraging
because i feel like you know my
experience is kind of unique of
of all the lawyers in in the us uh black
attorneys make up three percent and in
my particular profession
um one all one percent of all attorneys
are intellectual property attorneys so
if one percent
ip attorneys and we only make up three
percent there’s barely
you know what i mean so
i’ve had to sort of operate in heavily
white dominated spaces you know heavily
male dominated spaces and i feel like
when you’re young and in college it can
be intimidating and it can be a little
frightening to like figure out how can i
navigate these spaces
um but at the end of the day you
navigate like you navigate every other
thing one day at a time and
just making sure that you have the right
people around you for those days when
you are
um struggling or you can’t sort of see
the light at the end of the tunnel so
yeah hopefully i can come back and you
know do more stuff like that because
you know i’m i i’ve been gone for a
while i graduated 2010 but yeah
wherever you are i have your email and
maybe we can stay in contact and i’d
love to have you back and uh
yeah yeah yeah of course i appreciate
your time so much thank you for making
the time busy lady and um
i just
i’m in all of you thank you so much
thank you thank you i appreciate it and
thank you for you know reaching out and
connecting with me this was fun you’re
welcome thank you so much you have a
great great day
thanks you too thank you so much

Chinwe Ohanele, Esq., Elaine Hanly, Stockton, April 25, 2022