Wanting to ensure that Nashville high school students from low-income families were encouraged in their college aspirations, Atanda and other young people conducted a study on why only 35 percent of East Nashville high school students were enrolling in college—even though more than 90 percent of those surveyed indicated they wanted to attend.
Atanda, a Tennessee State University student at the time, co-authored a report on the findings, which prompted Metro Nashville Public School and elected officials to partner with Oasis Center, a youth organization, to establish a college access counseling program for East Nashville high school students.
College enrollment rates increased to 75 percent the year the report was released and have been rising ever since.
Atanda, a native of Nigeria, decided to attend law school at UT to further his interest in community advocacy. He plans to continue working in the area of public policy.
After taking the Tennessee bar exam this summer, Atanda plans to search for jobs in Washington, DC, with the eventual goal of working on Capitol Hill. He is interested in anti-trust law, which he notes is on par with advocacy.
“It’s all about making people’s lives and the community better to the extent that you can,” he said. “It’s about helping businesses play by the rules so that consumers are not harmed.”