Over the years, many donors have elected to invest in Africa’s future leaders by establishing scholarships at Ashesi University. One such individual is Ida Cole, a longtime friend of Ashesi who established the Mary E. Sherman Scholarship in 2014. Named in honor of Ida’s sister, the Sherman Scholarship is dedicated to supporting young women engineering students. Here, Ida discusses her relationship with Ashesi and shared what motivated her to establish a scholarship at the University.
How did you become acquainted with Ashesi?
“I became acquainted with Ashesi in 2005, on a trip to several African countries to look at businesses and organizations set up by native Africans. Paul Maritz led the trip, and our first stop was in Ghana, where we saw the Ashesi campus and understood what a monumental task Patrick had set out to create. We all wanted to support his vision to create a top-notch university that would educate Africa’s future leaders, and I started donating to Ashesi before I set up the scholarship in my sister’s name.”
What has inspired you to invest in women in engineering at Ashesi?
“My sister, Mary Sherman, was an engineer with multiple degrees in physics, electrical engineering, and business. It was a grand passion of hers to encourage young girls and women to enter technological fields, and she spoke to groups of girls/women throughout her distinguished career. To celebrate her 70th birthday, I created the Mary E. Sherman scholarship for girls interested in earning a degree in engineering.”
What do you hope to achieve by funding the Mary E. Sherman Scholarship?
“My sister died in 2018, but I like thinking her dream is still alive at Ashesi. I love the gender equality of the engineering program and the encouragement for women to enter these fields, which will be so important to Africa’s future.”
Today, Mary Sherman’s legacy lives on through the young women benefitting from the scholarship in her name. Learn more about honoring your loved ones by establishing a named scholarship or endowment.
“I love the gender equality of the engineering program and the encouragement for women to enter these fields, which will be so important to Africa’s future.”
Ida has worked for over 20 years in the computer and computer software industries, holding such positions as Director of Marketing at Apple Computer and Vice President of Applications at Microsoft Corporation, where she was the first woman to hold a Vice Presidential position. Ida’s primary philanthropic focus is the arts – she is the Founding Director of Seattle Theater Group and currently serves on the Board of the Lincoln Center Theater. Ms. Cole is also a Founding Director of Social Venture Partners, an innovative organization established to encourage creative philanthropy in young people.
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