Emefa Agbeshie | School : McGill University, Canada | Major : Physiology
I’m Emefa Agbeshie, a freshman at McGill University studying Biomedical Sciences (Pre- Medicine). My life before and after joining the Zawadi family is indeed poles apart. Furthering my education would have been difficult but for the help of the Zawadi Africa Education Fund. Being involved with Zawadi Africa, exposed me to myriad opportunities that have helped shape me into becoming a leader and a means to an end.
Through the help of Zawadi , I received a full scholarship to study in the best university in Canada where I interact with renowned professors and talented students of diverse backgrounds and ideas. There was no way my mother, (a single parent with four children) could have dreamed of such an amazing opportunity for me and each day, my family and I, continue to thank Zawadi Africa for this great but rare chance to make a difference through education.
Vanessa Bart-Plange | School : University of Toronto | Major : Political Science and International Relations
I am Vanessa Grace Bart-Plange and a MasterCard Foundation scholar at the University of Toronto. I am 20 years old and I hope to pursue a major in International Relations and also, to become a lecturer in the near future. My family comprises my parents, two stepmothers, three half-brothers, one half-sister and another sister who has the same parents as I do. I live with my mother and two sisters at the moment because my parents are separated. My mother is a trader who sells textiles and an assortment of goods such as towels, biscuits and sponges. She sells in a stall and has to pack her wares in and out every day. It is a very tedious job and I sometimes marvel at how she goes on everyday without fail. My father is an accountant at Ghana Ports and Harbors Authority. My half-sister, who is the eldest, got married about a year ago. Hitherto, she had been our main benefactor since my mother’s income could barely support us and my father often vacillated when financial matters came up for discussion.
Entering senior high school was a dream come true for me. I gained admission into Archbishop Porter Girls’ Secondary School after writing the entrance examination in 2008. However, it felt as if the journey of education had come to an end. This was because my father had been out of work for a year and had just been called back and my mother’s salary was scanty and could barely cater for the necessities and not the school fees. Eventually, my father borrowed money to pay the fees and my mother gave me the trunk she used in secondary school. My trunk was very old and weak and got indented the first day I went to boarding house. It was virtually empty save a tin of powdered milk, cocoa powder, a jar of shito and 2 cups of sugar. The only luxuries were a bottle of orange juice and half a pack of All-time biscuits.
Nana Yaa Boa-Amponsem
I count myself extremely blessed to be a part of the Zawadi family; a family made up of people with great minds, loving hearts, and an undiluted passion for the development of our continent through Education. I heard of Zawadi Africa through a church mate of mine, Stephanie Nyarko who had fully imbibed all the virtues instilled in her by the Zawadi family, especially that of sharing. Zawadi teaches us to be ambassadors of change, not only with our deeds, but also by inviting more people to be agents of change. And so I was invited to be a part of this family and I seized the opportunity heartily. Zawadi saw a potential in me; one that could be harnessed to make a difference in the world in the near future. There can never be enough said about the positive impacts Zawadi Africa has had on my life. There are some of them that cannot be expressed in words and others I am even yet to discover. Therefore, what I am about to unfold is how Zawadi Africa has impacted my life so far
Firstly, being a part of Zawadi has taught me certain important virtues such as perseverance, discipline, resilience and optimism. The Zawadi application in itself was designed in such a way that only a determined and disciplined person could go through the entire process till the end. However, as someone who had just completed high school, I was used to having things fairly easy and so there were a number of times I literally broke down emotionally and almost gave up. Little did I know that, along with the struggle, came the strength to persevere. I also learned through my application process to be positive minded about everything, knowing that my frame of mind went a long way to determine its outcome. There were times that I had to move out of my comfort zone, try new approaches, let go of some of my personal ideologies and be educated by my coordinator and other enlightened people as to the right path to take. All this has transformed my outlook on life as well as my approach to everything I do.
Iptisam Sani | School : McGill University, Canada | Major : Mining Engineering
There was a point in my life when I was anxious about being able to go to university because of my family’s struggles. My mother is a single parent taking care of three children and she spends almost everything she makes on feeding us. There was no room in her budget for the cost of a university education and even if I could pay for university, the money I needed to pay for the expenses incurred by books, food and accommodation were going to be so hard to come by that I might as well not go to school.
But Zawadi Africa changed this for me by allowing me to apply to universities where I could get scholarships to study. Through this great opportunity that they provided, I applied to several schools and got admission to McGill University where I am a MasterCard scholarship recipient. My family’s struggle is far from over but I know I have been given an opportunity to change my life and that of everyone in my family and my community as a whole. For that I will always be thankful and appreciative.
Rose Nyameke | Harvard university, Class of 2014 | Major : Neurobiology
At Harvard, I interned at Microsoft and Roche. I also worked with the African Development Initiative as a Director of Donor/ Sponsor Relations.
Stephannie Nyarko | School :Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology | Major : Computer Engineering
In the second term, luck shined on me and so I received a scholarship. My sister also started working and life became much easier. In third year, my father bought me a new trunk and it was like a new Mercedes handed over to me. My younger sister also joined me at school but was a day student since my parents could not afford to keep both of us in the boarding school.
In fourth year, things took a turn for the worse again. My younger sister was now in senior high school and I was heading out of it with the hope of enrolling in a university. The problem was that, my parents could not afford to pay for that as my father was the sole breadwinner. I felt that this time I would drop out of school. Conversely, Zawadi Africa Foundation came to my school to interview a few girls. I was fortunate to be chosen by my Assistant headmistress (Academic) as one of the interviewees. Likewise, my father was promoted at the last minute and so he could afford to buy my forms after I had written the final examination. By God’s grace, I passed and gained an admission into the University of Ghana to study Political Science, Linguistics and French. It was a tough time as well but the sense of being in school again made life worthwhile for the first semester. In my second semester, my father told me that he could no longer cater for me. My sister was also coming into university and my older sister had cut down her contributions since she was married now. He asked me to apply for a student’s loan but I declined because the interest on the principal was a large sum which I will pay off when I started working.
My father opposed my involvement with Zawadi Africa from the start. He always said that the organization was probably a fraud because “How could someone give you a full scholarship free of charge?” Due to this he refused to sign and pay for anything related to the admissions process. I had written SAT 1 using my money because he refused to pay but I could not afford the SAT 2. I could not attend the classes either so I studied on my own. Most of the costs involved in the admissions process and transportation became my burden. As a result, I applied to only two schools, Ohio State University (OSU) and University of Toronto (U of T) I was not accepted into OSU because although I paid the examinations council to send my WASSCE results slip, it never arrived. By God’s grace, I gained admission to U of T on a full scholarship. However, I could not share the good news with my father because I had not obeyed him.
My coordinator encouraged me to tell him but, my mother thought otherwise because she wanted to know if he was still committed to catering for me. MasterCard Foundation scholarships (a partner of Zawadi) covered every cost including visa fees, travelling expenses, tuition and incidentals. In the final stages of my new transition, University of Ghana re-opened for a new semester. I asked my father for money several times to pay my fees in a bid to see if he will. School had re-opened for a week but I was still at home because my father gave me GH$300 out of the GH$1200 that I needed for tuition and a room and asked me to try to find the rest of the amount. Eventually, he stopped picking my calls because he thought I will ask him for the cash. On the day of my departure I called him several times because I had wanted to explain everything to him and to say goodbye but he never picked and so I left Ghana without his knowledge. Since we live four hours from Accra, my mother and sister came during the day to say goodbye but could not stay till I left in the evening since they had nowhere to sleep in Accra. Consequently, my coordinator took me to the airport and she was the last “family” I saw.
I am very grateful for the opportunity that Zawadi Africa gave to me to study again. I would have been a drop-out by now or incurring a huge debt to go to school. Now, all I have to think about is making the grades because all of my educational and personal needs are taken care of. Besides, I have another family that I belong to and a lot of siblings to be grateful for. Thank you Zawadi Africa Foundation for this immense opportunity to achieve my dreams.
Maame Afua Ofori | Graduated with two honors. Magma cum laude for engineering and cum laude for overall performance | Major : Biomedical Engineering. GPA : 3.76/4.0
Edward Emerson Clark Endowed Scholar.Presidential Scholarship Researcher. Actively involved in research and a research fellow in the Ackerman Biochemical and Biotechnology Lab.Apart from academics, I served as an Undergraduate Student Adviser and a Women In Science Project Adviser. I was a member of the Catholic Student’s Organization and the Afro-American Society. I was also a member of Amnesty International and the National Association of Black Engineers. I am currently applying for jobs and hope to work for a year or two after graduation and then go to graduate school to get a masters and a PhD.Studied HIV antibodies and how their functions can be improved with mutations at the Thayer School of Engineering in collaboration with clinicians at the Massachusetts General Hospital.
Mercy Asiedu | University of Rochester, Class of 2014 | Graduated with distinction | Major : Biomedical Engineering and Business GPA :3.42
While in University of rochester I filled various leadership positions on the e-boards of the National Society of Black Engineers, Pan African Student’s Association and the Biomedical Engineering Society. I also founded the Ma’Frisah African dance troupe to share African culture with the university community.
I have recently been accepted into the biomedical engineering doctorate program at Duke University. My research there will focus on the use of optical technology for detecting breast and cervical cancer. I am passionate about developing low cost medical technology for the developing world and I hope to be able to achieve this in the near future.
Josepha Segbefia | Benedict College Class of 2014 | Major : Accounting
Bernice Datsomor | School : University of Toronto | Program : Life Sciences
There is a story of a girl who had lost hope of ever becoming who and what she wanted to be. A door was opened to her and she entered but she was still uncertain. A light was turned on and she opened her eyes – lo and behold, she had been given a gold mine. I am proud to say that hopeless girl was me Bernice, and the goldmine is the education I am about to receive. Now I feel boundless.
I was featured in the Daily Graphic because my family could not support me to further my education to the tertiary level after I completed high school.
Zawadi came to my aid. I applied and was accepted into the program. I was helped with my applications to schools in North America. And as at now, I have attained a full scholarship to study at the University of Toronto in Canada. I was successful also because of the adequate mentorship, guidance and counseling sessions that I was taken through.
My experience as a Zawadi scholar has made me a better person. It has built up my confidence. It has given me more than just a reason to believe in myself and the need to put smiles on people’s faces.
I am very sure that through Zawadi, Africa will have a very good number of female leaders who will inspire new generations in order to bring about the change that Africa really needs.
Belinda Temeng | School : University of Toronto | Program : Life Sciences
Akua D. Sakyi School | University of British Columbia | Major : Economics and Math.