The Highway Fewer Traveled To Harvard Business School

Temi Olonilua, a initial era college grad from Nigeria, introduced her HBS confess

Temi Olonilua expended a great deal of her childhood in the late ‘90s scribbling absent by candlelight in the a few-bed room bungalow she shared with a dozen customers of her family members. Ability outages ended up widespread in her hometown of Lagos, and on some evenings, finishing homework assignments routinely intended lights the taper candle she stored in her desk drawer and praying for the electrical power to appear back on.

Generally, the outage would outlast the candle and she’d set down her pencil in defeat and head to mattress in the darkness. Her research would have to wait around for the crack of dawn.

These days, Olonilua, 26, lives in New York City and losing ability is the previous matter on her head. In simple fact, as an engineer at the utility business that pretty much powers the town, it is Olonilua’s work to continue to keep the lights on for its denizens.

But following 4 yrs at Con Edison, she’s hanging up her tough hat to pursue her lifelong dream of attending Harvard Enterprise University for her MBA. In the 7 months because she has gained her acceptance letter, Olonilua’s pleasure has only amplified. But that cool December morning at the end of a calendar year when a flu pandemic introduced the planet to a crawl is 1 that Olonilua, a first era college or university scholar from Nigeria, will not quickly neglect.


She experienced hoped to rest in to eliminate some time before the significant announcement at midday, but her circadian cycle had distinctive designs for her that day. She woke up feeling restless at 5 a.m. and going back again to slumber experienced proved futile. Then again, how can a person be anticipated to slumber soundly when anticipating a life-changing final decision from Harvard?

“The hours from 5 a.m. to midday, it’s only 7 hrs, but it was the longest 7 several hours,” Olonilua remembered.

She pulled the covers off, place on a pot of espresso, and showered prior to logging onto her get the job done laptop or computer and finishing a handful of duties.

“The time just felt like it was not moving,” she recalled.

Very well, maybe breakfast would get rid of some time. As an alternative of her usual yogurt, she made a decision to make a smoothie. And then she went for a walk. She was practically relieved when it was at last time to be part of her colleagues for a digital meeting—it authorized her to shift her focus onto one thing else.

But as noon drew closer, the butterflies ended up back. Olonilua left all of her digital devices in her area and went to sit up coming to her mother in the living room. They tried using to watch Tv together.


And then five minutes prior to Determination Time, she experienced her brother carry her laptop more than to her. They watched the minutes tick by. A funny issue took place. After expending all morning waiting around for the second, quickly she recognized she wasn’t ready for what she was about to discover out.

She taken off her eyeglasses from her face—without them, she couldn’t see—logged into the applicant portal and clicked on “Update Available” to pull up the letter.

“So it is like I’m not going to be ready to make out the words, but if I see a seriously quick sentence, I’ll know I got in, and then I can wear my glasses and go through on, but if I do not see a brief sentence, I can just log out and shut my laptop and just, like, cry,” she stated.

The tears flowed just the very same. She did a double take just to make confident, and then screamed with delight. She fell to the floor, rolling and screaming. Her sister burst into the room wanting to know what had occurred. Rejoicing, the spouse and children collected for a prayer, their faces stained with tears. Olonilua was in disbelief. Immediately after all, small additional than a person in 10 Harvard MBA pupils these days are to start with generation higher education grads.

“You have this desire and you pray it happens, but is it essentially going to take place?”


The subsequent handful of hrs were filled with a steady movement of champagne and cellular phone calls and Slack messages. Just after sharing the superior news with her boss, she in some way returned to operate and then went for a stroll at a neighborhood park to method the information. The smile never ever remaining her face.

“I experienced all these feelings, but it was remarkable,” she mentioned. “It was so, so wonderful,”

It took Olonilua days just before she could go back and go through the relaxation of her acceptance letter.

Born to dad and mom who satisfied and fell in really like in Lagos, Olonilua spent the to start with 15 decades of her lifestyle in Nigeria’s premier metropolis, where she attended main and secondary university and grew up in a substantial, limited-knit family with a few sisters and a young brother. The household didn’t have a lot, but they had God and they experienced just about every other, and as it afterwards turned out, some luck. But privateness? Not so significantly.

“There was no privacy at all,” she laughed.

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