December 27, 2016
Sara Veltkamp is a communications expert supporting Ashesi through her firm, Minerva Strategies. For Ashesi, Sara finds and develops stories that best demonstrate Ashesi’s impact and unique approach, and then spreads those stories through local and national media. Ashesi hopes that these efforts will grow funding and other forms of support for the University.
Can you tell our readers a little about Minerva Strategies?
Minerva Strategies’ mission is to inspire action and create positive change through smart communication. This “smart communication” looks different in practice for every organization with which we partner. We take into consideration what the organization does well and the great stories they have to tell, whom they want those stories to reach, and what channels work best to reach those people.
In September, you had a chance to visit campus. What were some highlights of the trip for you?
One of the highlights of my trip was the opportunity to see an Ashesi student who volunteers for Teach for Ghana in Berekuso – where the university is located. The student was teaching the very first class the secondary school students had ever taken on problem solving for math. Having only been exposed to rote learning styles, they sat quietly, not understanding what was expected of them as he engaged them with increasingly more complex questions.
One of my favorite things to do is pass off my camera to kids and see what photos they take. It’s a lot of fun as you can see in the photos:
I’m sure that you’ve worked with many interesting clients while at Minerva Strategies. What strikes you as unique or exceptional about Ashesi?
Usually when I think about the people that our clients serve, it is the differences in their stories and mine that stick out. Women with obstetric fistula – a terrible childbirth injury that occurs after prolonged obstructed labor – lead lives of isolation and pain that I cannot imagine living. Adolescent girls in parts of the global south face violence and lack of opportunity that I was spared from in my comfortable Midwest childhood.
But with Ashesi, it’s the similarities rather than the differences that strike me. I know that the students had very different lives growing up in Ghana and other parts of Africa and have faced challenges that I never had to face. But when I sat across the table from alumni in interviews, I felt a kinship; I listened to them echoing my thoughts and dreams. The drive to be better today than they were yesterday; the ambition to do something special with their lives and time; their willingness to risk a comfortable life to grow, learn, or stand up for what they believe – this resonates with my dreams and worldview. This is the life-changing power of a great education and being surrounded by people who believe in you.
Ashesi students dream big with what feels like limitless ambition. They take their education and ethics and put them to use in a variety of fields from engineering to business to computer science. These students are changing those fields for the better in Ghana and I’m excited to see how Ashesi grows and continues to equip students to change Ghana, and our world, for the better.
Share this story