Justine Akorfa Dagadu is my name, and I am the first of three children. I hail originally from Kedzi, a hamlet along the southeastern coast of Ghana, but I’ve lived most of my life in Agbogbloshie, a deprived inner-city portion of my nation’s capital, Accra. I am excited and consider it a miracle for me to be here at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), to start my degree programme on a full scholarship.
My father is a retired driver, and my mum sells local foods to supplement our family’s income. Although raising me in a place that has been denied the luxuries or basics of a serene environment with efficient systems and facilities, my parents have always strived to give me a good education and a life better than what they’ve ever had. Watching them go the extra mile to allow me grow into who I want to be, has given me the urge and motivation to impact change; change to remove the extreme inequalities in societies like mine, and to address the gaps created by these inequalities.
This same urge has pushed me in my academic pursuits.
I had my high school education at Keta Senior High School, (Ketasco), where I studied General Science. Here, I learned that I too could reach for the sky and push beyond the limits that surrounded me. But after graduating in 2019, in the top 1% of my class, I would soon realize that furthering my education was looking nearly impossible due to my family’s limited financial situation.
Things began to turn in my favour, however, when I got accepted into the Young Achievers Foundation Ghana (YAF Ghana) Scholars Program in 2021. Through this program, I’ve discovered my true potential and I’m a step closer to actualizing my dreams. I am the first in my community to pursue not just an undergraduate degree, but one at the prestigious Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in the USA, on a full scholarship! (- worth $82,000 a year for four years)
I view this as an avenue of new beginnings, and a chance for unprecedented growth, not just for me, but for every other child in my community and beyond. I plan to pursue a joint concentration in Bioengineering and International Development. With this niche intersection, I look forward to having a better understanding towards tackling problems of health and economic development in the developing world.
Most importantly, I hope to give children in communities like mine in Agbogbloshie a better fighting chance in life. Getting into MIT is a blessing, a chance for not just me but every other person or child in my community to believe that they can finally break down the barriers and burdens of many years of negative life experiences and aspire for greater heights.
I am grateful to YAF Ghana, to the MIT Alumni in Ghana, and to the KETASCO Past Students Association in Ghana and North America, for all the support in making this dream come true in my life.
Together with fellow Dzolalian, Francisca Lamini, who also enrolled in nearby Harvard University this year, I believe we are poised to break barriers and lift the flags of KETASCO and Ghana high.
May Almighty GOD be our Helper.
DZO LALI – NOW OR NEVER. Thank you.
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Credit: Facebook/ Justine Akorfa Dagadu