Nov. 2, 2021

Class of 2021: 6 questions with Vitus Ngaanuma

The Master of Laws graduate on starting university on his second day in Canada, and the moment he knew his career in legal scholarship would be a great one
Vitus Ngaanuma
Vitus Ngaanuma

This is part of series of articles where we asked the fall cohort of the class of 2021 to reflect on their time at the university and share what they learned and loved about their time here. For more student responses, visit Congratulations, Class of 2021.

When Vitus Ngaanuma started studying at the University of Calgary, it was only his second day in Canada and he was a long way from his home country of Ghana.  

Though he was geographically far from it, Ghana featured prominently in his studies. Ngaanuma’s first peer-reviewed published paper examined if the ownership regime of minerals in Ghana is constitutional. In the African country, every mineral in its natural state is the property of Ghana and is vested in its president in trust for the people. That creates a lack of power for citizens to question the president in the exercise of mineral rights in court. The validation of his paper and research encouraged Ngaanuma to continue his legal scholarship.  

Ngaanuma graduated with a Master of Laws in fall 2021, specializing in energy and environmental law. He took a few minutes to answer our questions about his time at the University of Calgary. 

What advice would you give yourself on your first day of your master’s degree?  

My first day at the University of Calgary was an interesting one, especially being an international student. Before arriving at the university, I conducted extensive research about the university and the city of Calgary and was looking forward to joining the university community and enjoying my stay in the city.  

My first day at the university was my second day in Canada and I had a lot of new things to learn from and adapt to. My advice, especially to international students in such situations, is to be very open-minded and develop a public-spirited character.  

Is there a project, discovery or moment from your time at the university that you are most proud of?   

My proudest moment at the University of Calgary was when I published my first academic peer-reviewed journal article, “The Constitutionality of Nominal Trusteeship in Regalian Mineral Ownership Regime in Ghana,” It was published in the Journal of Energy & Natural Resources Law, being the well-respected journal of the International Bar Association’s Section on Energy, Environment, Natural Resources, and Infrastructure Law. I also won an external scholarship from the Rocky Mountain Mineral Law Foundation.  

Tell us about one person who supported you through your studies and powered you along the way.   

I dedicate my achievements at the University of Calgary to my thesis supervisor, Professor Evaristus Oshionebo, for discovering my research potential and agreeing to work with me throughout the program. I was inspired by his very high standards.  

What was the most unexpected or surprising thing you learned in your studies at the University of Calgary? Did you have a light bulb moment? 

My light bulb moment was when my first manuscript was accepted in a highly rated journal. At that moment, I felt my career in research and legal scholarship generally will be a great one.    

What is your favourite physical space on campus? When you come back to visit in years to come, where will you make sure to stop by?     

The graduate section of the Bennett Jones Law Library where I spent most of my time before COVID-19 set in.  

Now what? What’s your next big move? 

Since leaving the University of Calgary, I have taken a big step towards achieving a career in legal scholarship. I have enrolled in a doctoral program in law at the Peter A. Allard School of Law, University of British Columbia, Vancouver.  


Congratulations, Class of 2021

Read more Q-and-As from fall 2021 graduates.