Oct. 31, 2022

New public policy grad wears many hats at once

2022 Top 40 Under 40: Tomi Ajele, MPP’22; editor-in-chief, Afros In Tha City; Partnership & Engagement manager, Apathy is Boring; board president, Plastic-Free YYC
Tomi Ajele
Tomi Ajele Avenue Magazine

We are not sure how many hats one individual can possibly wear, but this newly minted master’s grad in public policy is definitely a contender. Juggling her full-time job with Apathy is Boring, a charitable organization that encourages civic discourse by youth in Canada, with the Black community group, Afros In Tha City, where, as editor-in-chief, she manages the Black Futures collaboration with local media organization, The Sprawl, this 28-year-old dynamo is adept at growing an audience, raising funds, participating in revenue-growing initiatives and public speaking. When someone asks Tomi Ajele what exactly she does — shorthand for, “where do you work?” we’re not sure where she would start. Other than the fact the varied spaces she touches are catalysts for Black Calgarians to share their stories.

We know you’ve officially graduated this month, but what will you miss about student life?

The commiseration. There’s just something about tight deadlines and piles of difficult readings that bring people together. I made incredible friends during my time at the U of C.

Do you remember any professors who were standouts?

Dr. Lisa Young. She made the public policy program what it was. She’s incredible.

What has been your biggest career highlight to date?

Getting my personal essay published in the Huffington Post. Since then, I’ve been very proud of how Afros In Tha City has grown and how we’ve been able to partner with other non-profits, publications and larger institutions. Also, getting a Top 40 — that’s definitely been a highlight.

If you were to go back to school, what would you take?

Something that explores gender, race and sexuality. Anything that unpacks the social constructs that mean so little and so much at the same time.

What do you wish you knew more about?

How to nail a reality-TV audition tape … or how to code.

Who are your biggest heroes?

People who tell the truth.

Any advice for students or new grads? 

I hate how this sounds. I really, really, hate how this sounds… but network.

A guilty pleasure?

Reality TV. But let’s face it, there’s no guilt, just pleasure!

What is the most annoying question that people ask you?

“Would you mind doing the dishes?”

With files from Avenue Magazine.

Meet the entire 2022 cohort of Top 40 Under 40 honourees at Avenue Magazine.