Student Profile: Meet First-Year Student Kossi "Jeremie" Siwotso
Kossi “Jeremie” Siwotso is from Togo, West Africa. He has lived in the U.S. since 2005, and earned his bachelor’s degree in criminal justice from Trinity University. He knew that he wanted to go to law school before he graduated because of his experiences in Togo working as a missionary and a minister.
“The society is not that structured, it’s not fully democratized,” said Siwotso. “You can see how much potential the people have, but it’s difficult for them to achieve it because there are so many limitations."
Siwotso's church does community development work, such as organizing farmers into small groups so they can farm together. Although grasroots organizing is one of his interests, Siwotso said his true calling has more to do with the rule of law.
"I saw how lack of the rule of law is preventing people from achieving what I believe to be their God-given potential," said Siwotso. "I think development can only be achieved through a social and political shift that produces structure, equal opportunity for all Togolese, and government's accountability to its people."
While working in the communities in Togo, he saw that there was a need for reform in the system of governance, but he realized very quickly that he would need more education to be able to help the people there. His long-term goal is to help build and run a health clinic and cultural center – which will function like a public forum and a library – for the people in his country.
“I grew up in Togo only a decade after my country's independence,” said Siwotso. “Western countries financed our roads and schools, but after they were built there was no mechanism in place to maintain them. They just got run down. When you go back to Togo today, the country looks less like it was when I left. It’s like we are going backwards in terms of infrastructure.”
He says that apathy, corruption, and chaos are major contributors to the problem in Togo. He wanted to attend AUWCL to develop skills in community organizing, knowledge in government reform, and the administration of justice in a democratic society. AUWCL was his first choice law school, and he believes that the education he receives here will help him to help Togo along its long road toward a functioning democracy.
“My wife and I looked up American University online and we were both impressed when we discovered that women founded the law school,” he said. “I called the school just to talk to people and I got a different kind of feeling, a warm kind of feeling. So right there I decided that I was going to go to American University.”