Overcoming the odds: Martha Boakye ’17

July 2, 2017
Move-in day for most families is a memorable one. Between parents and guardians helping their loved ones move into dormitories, to freshmen excited about finally starting college, the day can be quite emotional. For the Boakye family though, move-in day, four years ago, was a huge milestone. For the first time ever, one of their children was heading to college, and so most of the family, having rented a large 45–seater bus, made their way to the Ashesi campus to celebrate their ‘daughter’. This student was Martha Boakye, Class of 2017.

“The opportunity to attend Ashesi was a miracle on its own,” says Martha Boakye ‘17, who was accepted into Ashesi as a MasterCard Foundation Scholar in 2013. “For the most part, my family was constantly belittled among friends and extended relations. I became eager to make my family proud, and focused on studying, working, attaining the best, and holding on to my faith.”

Growing up, Martha, the seventh of her parents’ children, divided her time between school, and helping her mother sell fruits and vegetables along some of the busiest roads and communities in Accra. The income, though, was not enough to fund her university education. So even though Martha had excellent grades in senior high, grappling with college tuition was a daunting task for the family.

As they explored ways of financing college, Martha’s senior high headmistress told her about Ashesi’s generous financial aid; so she applied, and hoped for the best.

When the call from Ashesi eventually came, the details of her admissions package were hard to take in. “Getting into Ashesi, and hearing that I was being offered a full scholarship, was perhaps one of the best days in my life,” she says. “I would get access to a computer, and I barely knew how to type!”

“So settling down in my first year was tough,” she says. “It was a different environment and this was first time staying away from home. My courses seemed completely foreign to me, and I felt somewhat out of place. However, with support from the university, and the need to excel, I learned to open-up, building up rapport with people and asking questions in class. This helped to break some boundaries.” In June 2017, Martha graduated with Honors, becoming the first of her siblings to complete a four-year college education. It was an even bigger occasion than move-in day.

“My family, and seeing others who were disadvantaged, have always been my inspiration,” she explains. “I look forward to becoming an investment analyst soon and helping create a home where people can have a sense of belonging, find comfort, and get amazing opportunities to go to school, like I did.”

Now that she’s graduated, Martha is now gearing up for an internship with a leading investment firm in Ghana, while also building experience at the Ghana Stock Exchange.

“I have learned to never lose focus of where I come from, and under no circumstance should one compromise their values for anything,” says Martha. “In the end, others should always know what you stand for.”

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