When Festus joined Ashesi as a gardener in 2007, he had been told by some friends and colleagues that it was a university for wealthy families only. Festus, the second of four children two of whom had not received any formal education, believed it.
“I remember that I would look at the young men and women walking past me to lectures everyday, and wish that I could be one of them. But I had never thought of applying to Ashesi while I worked here. It was an education far beyond my means.”
But Alison Cohen, who was then a tutor at Ashesi’s Writing Centre, convinced Festus that he could get into Ashesi, and told him about the university’s generous scholarship programme.
“Alison and I spoke a lot, and when she learned that I had got good grades on my senior high school examinations she told me that it was possible for me to be a student at Ashesi,” Festus says.
Festus applied, and was accepted to Ashesi in 2008 on the basis of his academic record and leadership potential. “What completely surprised me when I applied was the level of support and encouragement that I got from several other members of the Ashesi community. They really believed that I had the potential.“
On June 30th, 2012, Festus graduated from Ashesi with a degree in Business Administration, and received honourary mention from the Chief Marshal, Casper Annie, for his remarkable feat.
He became the first person in his family to have received a university education.
“The Ashesi community is my second home now. It has been wonderful to me. I have classmates I can call siblings, and staff and faculty who continue to support me like family. It is amazing being a part of such a community.”
Even before graduation, Development Alternatives Inc., a U.S based global development firm, recruited Festus. At DAI, Festus will be working as Programs Assistant doing research on countries in West Africa and analyzing key data for assessment and capacity building needs.
“I have the rural poor at heart now. It is my hope that some day I can set up a rural agricultural support centre to help poor farmers grow their business. I want to do for them what Ashesi did for me – give them hope that it can be better.”