Moving across continents comes with a lot of trepidation, especially as a 24-year-old that’s just gotten married. Success stories rarely happen overnight and Wuraola Dasylva’s journey is no different.
She started as a graduate student with the national law firm Miller Thompson. “It was one of the toughest things I had to do in my adult life,” she said. “I was leaving my family, friends, everything I have known all my life.”
Dasylva moved from Nigeria to Canada in 2015 as an international student. She studied for a master’s degree in law at the University of Manitoba and was called to the Canadian bar in 2018.
“I joined the firm in 2017 as an articling student. I have enjoyed enormous support from the people I work with. I work with the most brilliant legal minds.”
The 32-year-old was named partner in the firm she started with as a student just five years ago.
“I still have that pinch-me moment, if I am allowed to describe it that way — it feels very surreal,” she said.
“It feels very rewarding for one’s hard work to be recognized.”
While Dasylva’s rise has been quick on Canadian soil, her previous experience in Nigeria was key to her promotion
“Miller Thompson was also looking at my experience from Nigeria because I was called to the Nigerian bar in 2014,” Dasylva said. “They looked to what my specific situation is and determined that I was deserving of some credit for my foreign experience, so I became eligible sooner than I would have been, because I have been called in another jurisdiction for a longer period.”
Dasylva added that she got a fully-funded scholarship for her master’s program and moved with her husband.
“It was a long process, but with determination, with great support and hard work. I think I was able to do it, but it wasn’t a one-month journey,” she said. “It was like a whole village helping me and rooting for me.”
Eric Johnson, the local managing partner at Miller Thompson, said he feels this is a well-deserved accomplishment.
“I have had the opportunity to work with her and seen her growth and development, which has been significant,” he said. “She has been a tremendous asset to our firm. She is an excellent lawyer. Her work quality is absolutely first grade as is her level of client service and her professional skill set. I have seen it grow and develop.”
Dasylva believes this success is not for her alone.
“I want to show other people like me — you know, women, mothers immigrants — what can be done, what can be achieved, what they can accomplish,” she said.
“I am sharing my story today because I want people to know that it is very possible. Canada is a land of opportunities.”
She had some tips for other immigrant women working on their journey. “Connect with the right people, find your own support system, be a part of the community, in networking and in giving back to the community,” she said.
Dasylva suggested to start early when someone lands in Canada and to be open-minded.
“You may have practiced in a certain area, you may have held a different job, but Canada is a land of opportunities,” Dasylva said. “It’s a place where you could start afresh and still blossom.
“So find the right support system, volunteer, be a part of the community, start early, ask questions and just believe in yourself.”
It’s a message of hope for other immigrants who have left loved ones and travelled thousands of kilometres, hoping for a new life in Canada.
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