Class of ’26 shaped by Osgoode’s holistic admissions policy

Group photo of Class of '26 students Jennifer Meade, Hammna Iftikhar and Karl Furtado.
Class of ’26 students Jennifer Meade (left) Hammna Iftikhar and Karl Furtado.

Karl Furtado never expected to be at Osgoode. But as the third week of classes begins for the Mississauga, Ont. native and other members of the Class of ’26, he is still revelling in the experience.

“I’d like to say I chose Osgoode, but I feel like the truth is that they chose me,” he said. “I know how competitive the process is, so I didn’t get my hopes very high.”

Less than a month into his law studies, Furtado said, the “secret sauce” to Osgoode’s admissions process is already clearly evident.

“It puts together a very strong cohort of students with diverse and valuable life experience,” he observed. “From engineers to securities investigators, to professionals of all different backgrounds, the students all seem well positioned to make exceptional contributions to the profession.”

Osgoode’s diversity is a reflection, in part, of its unique holistic admissions policy, which takes into account more than just grades or LSAT scores when selecting students from among thousands of applicants.

Furtado, a French linguistics major, worked as a paralegal for more than 20 years before deciding to pursue his law degree. “I enjoyed advocating on behalf of disadvantaged plaintiffs as a paralegal and always thought I could do more as a lawyer,” he noted.

Jennifer Meade, a native of picturesque Hudson’s Hope, B.C., was a certified fraud examiner in the capital markets field before beginning her law school journey. In that role, she used sophisticated techniques to detect complex market abuse.

Meade said the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Minn. in May 2020 prompted in her a process of profound reflection about injustice in the world and the kind of impact she hoped to make in life –especially with respect to systemic racism. The pandemic only magnified that introspection.

“I had become numb to these issues after having my own painful experiences and watching family and friends face similar challenges,” she said. “A year later, I found myself applying to law schools.  I stopped looking outside of myself for an advocate and decided to become one.”

She was drawn to Osgoode, she said, by its reputation for excellence, its focus on public service and its commitment to equity, diversity and inclusion.

“Attending Osgoode is an absolute honour,” she added, “and I’m very much looking forward to receiving an exceptional legal education that I can pay forward and perhaps use to inspire others to also apply to law school.”

Torontonian Hammna Iftikhar discovered her passion for the law earlier than some classmates – as a student in York University’s Law & Society program.

“Learning about the law and its place within society taught me that law is everchanging and individuals can have an impact within society no matter their background,” she said. “As someone who is passionate about supporting her community and assisting those in need, I realized that my interests aligned within the areas of law that motivated me to pursue a career as a lawyer.”

For her, she said, the deciding factor in choosing Osgoode was it’s unparalleled and wide-ranging clinical education program.

“I found that Osgoode has a lot of experiential learning opportunities that provide wonderful hands-on experience to students, which is key when deciding to pursue a specialization,” she added. “The diverse student body and the sense of community were also encouraging factors in finding the right environment at law school.”