Recap: Class of 2020 Celebrates Commencement in Virtual Ceremony

Ashesi’s 16th Commencement Ceremony was the first of two virtual events being held in 2021 and brought on a delayed mix of excitement and nostalgia for the Class of 2020. After navigating a tough year, and deferring the ceremony in 2020 in the hopes of having an in-person event this year, the two hundred and fifty-two members of the class Class of 2020 were joined by friends and family around the world for the Commencement Livestream. The Class of 2020 represented eighteen countries and one hundred and six high schools. Forty-nine per cent of the Class are women, and forty-seven per cent received scholarships for their education at Ashesi. The Class brings Ashesi’s alumni community to a 1,637-strong.

Class donates GHs11000 to support scholarship programme at Ashesi
With many families affected by the pandemic in 2020, Ashesi had supported many students across different classes with scholarships thanks to generous donors. With some members of the Class of 2020 having benefitted themselves from scholarships at Ashesi, the Class collectively donated GHs11,000 as their Class Gift to support scholarships.

“With the transition to online study, Ashesi financially supported distressed students and families in a variety of ways,” said Class Speaker Nicole Amoo-Yankey. “As a class, with members that benefitted from this, we want to see Ashesi continue to be able to help students in times of crises. Collectively, we are donating a cash gift of GHS11,000 to support Ashesi’s student emergency financial aid programmes. It is our example to this community as we move forward, and a commitment to keep doing our best to support future generations of Ashesi students and alumni.

“Incomplete work has no reward,” Lisa Opoku tells Class of 2020
In a moving speech focused on the power of identity and legacy, Guest Speaker Lisa Opoku reminded the Class of 2020 that there were generations ahead that would follow in the footprints they leave behind. Sharing stories of her effort to increase diversity and role models for Africans in corporate America, Opoku recounted a conversation she had with former Ghanaian President Kufour that had stuck with her.

“Six years into my career at Goldman, I was disappointed about being passed over for a promotion,” Opoku shared. “I wanted to leave and move to Ghana. Thanks to my friend Edith Kufuor, President Kufuor is a dear friend and mentor of mine. I discussed my plans to return to Ghana with him. He told me not to move back to Ghana at that time. He sent me right back to Goldman Sachs. He lectured me with this Akan proverb about finishing the work: ADWUMA YE SIN NNI AKATUA. It means – “Incomplete Work Has No Reward.” […] I listened to President Kufuor, and two years later, I was promoted to Partner at Goldman Sachs – but his words remain true. I still haven’t finished the work. There is so much more I hope we can do together. President Kufuor had a dream for me. Through his dream, I am creating a beautiful network of people at Goldman Sachs.”

“May You Continue to Blossom,” Provost tells Class of 2020
Now almost a year into their careers, the Class of 2020 has navigated through one of the toughest periods of their lives. Ashesi Provost, Professor Owusu Ansah, reminded that the Class that it had blossomed amidst disruption and would continue to do so. Professor Owusu Ansah also reminded the Class that their learning at Ashesi had given them the skills to draw on multiple knowledge disciplines to solve some of the big social problems they would seek to grapple with.

“Class of 2020, perhaps, mathematics might be just one tool people can use to understand social injustices,” she read in conclusion to her address. “But it can be quite incomplete in itself, if it does not build on the notion of other knowledges, responsibility and action.”

Congratulations, Class of 2020. Welcome to the Ashesi alumni community, and we look forward to seeing who you become and what you accomplish in the years ahead!