'Don't waste your time': Fellowship keeps Sarah Ladipo at OHIO

The David M. Crane fellowship allows this 2023 Commencement speaker to continue her studies at the university she loves.

Acadia Hansen, '26 | February 13, 2024


Sarah Ladipo began her college career in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, but by her commencement speech last May, she had traveled the world and was fully immersed in the Athens community. When the opportunity arose to continue her studies at Ohio University, she took it.

Ladipo was awarded the David M. Crane Graduate Fellowship for International Affairs, which supports an Ohio University student who goes on to pursue a master's degree in the Center for International Studies in the College of Arts and Sciences. The fellowship has allowed Ladipo to continue her studies at a university she loves and that supports her passion for connecting with people.

“I encourage anyone to apply to the David Crane Fellowship,” says Ladipo. “It was an honor to meet him when he came to campus in the fall and I am really glad to be a fellow.” 

Two people stand side by side, smiling at the camera

Ladipo with David Crane

Crane is one of the most recognized international criminal lawyers in the world, having served as the founding Chief Prosecutor of the Special Court for Sierra Leone. He earned a bachelor’s degree in history in 1972 and a master’s in African studies in 1973. He was presented an Honorary Doctorate of Letters Degree at OHIO's Graduate Commencement in 2017. He earned a Juris Doctor from Syracuse University in 1980.

Ladipo was also a part of the Cutler Scholars Program as an undergraduate. The program allowed her to connect with not only the Athens community, but with communities outside the U.S. as well. Her travels took her across four continents, where she studied the history and languages of many different cultures. 

A piece of advice that I gave myself once I started at [OHIO] was: don’t waste your time feeling or questioning if you belong or if you deserve it.

Sarah Ladipo

Q & A with Sarah Ladipo

Q: What path did you take to get to where you are now?

Sarah Ladipo in front of the U.S. Capitol Building.

A: I’m from Carroll, OH, which is kind of on the outskirts of Pickerington. I went to OU for my undergrad and studied philosophy and got a minor in political science. I was privileged enough to be in the Cutler Scholars Program that provided a full ride scholarship. It also allowed me to have an internship on Capitol Hill to study abroad my entire senior year and go to seven different countries, and it just provided me the ability to connect with the Athens community and not just the campus of OU. They were really big on building leaders and tomorrow’s change-makers and all of the corny, but actually true, things. That was a pivotal experience in my undergrad, and fast forward to current day, I’m a grad student at OU. I’m a Crane Fellow studying war and peace studies, and it’s just a really sweet thing that I get to continue at my alma mater because I just love OU so much.

Q: Where did you go when you studied abroad?

A: I went to Italy, France, South Africa, Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia and Mexico. It was a very transformative time for me. And coming from my background, it wouldn’t have been possible to go abroad without the scholarship that Cutler provided. Coming from a very rural area, I don’t know somebody personally that’s been to seven different countries, so it was such a great experience and I’m really enthusiastic about encouraging people to study abroad more to just see how big the world is, be a person on this planet and be understanding of other cultures and differing point of view.

Q: Did you have any internships or student leadership experiences?

A: After my freshman year, I was in student senate and Students Defending Students and I was a diversity leadership ambassador. And I was in the Ohio Fellows program. I did a lot. I tried to just get involved as much as I could, not even just for the sake of putting things on my resume, but because I just really love people. I think when you’re connected with different organizations that are trying to do good for people you just connect with people and students.

Q: Outside of student leadership, what clubs or organizations were you a part of?

A: I was trying to get more involved with the Athens community, so I was a part of the Mount Zion Preservation Society. They’re currently trying to preserve the oldest Black church and Black Appalachian history. Learning that there is Black Appalachian history in Athens and helping them make a documentary that was presented in the Athena was a really great thing to do during my undergrad.

Q: What was one of your favorite classes that you took during your time at OHIO?

A: I really liked ethics. Ethics with Dr. Morris. That was a really enlightening class, and I don’t even know how to describe it. The content was just very relevant because it made you think. It just made you think of what are your ethics? What’s the world’s ethics? What are different cultures’ ethics like? It’s all to some point relative and is there a universal ethical standard of like, do we all think murder is wrong? Just those questions that, as a philosophy major, I like to ponder.

Q: What is one piece of advice that you were given during your time at OHIO that truly inspired you?

A: A piece of advice that I gave myself once I started at OU was don’t waste your time feeling or questioning if you belong or if you deserve it. Just make the most out of this scholarship, out of your four years. This advice that I gave myself, or this mindset, made me apply to things that I didn’t think I would get. And just put myself out there because I was just like hey, I’m here. I’m not going to be crippled by imposture syndrome. I think that’s the best advice I had for myself and what I would even advise other people currently in undergrad. What I tried to advise myself and my mentees is just to make the most out of your time and take other classes outside of your major. And I think that is what university is for. It’s a miniature universe. Take any classes you want and make the experience what you want it to be.

Q: What is a favorite moment or memory that you have from Ohio University?

A: I would say my favorite memory was definitely giving the commencement speech last year, May 2023, to my class because we were the class that first experienced COVID our freshman year. So really just being like you guys, we survived. For someone that used to be such a big introvert, to be selected for such a big honor was definitely a highlight with my time at OU.