By: Joseph Richardson
Kwadwo (Kojo) Sarpong, a man whose humility is paired elegantly with his ambition, was once a GPC student and is now pursuing his dream by running a nonprofit organization.
Sarpong’s story started a little different from the common student.
He came to the United States in 2009 from Ghana and worked at Wal-Mart and as a housekeeper at a hospital.
In 2011, Sarpong decided to attend GPC at the Clarkston campus and pursue his education.
Sarpong attended a university in Ghana, so there was a slight culture shock at GPC.
Because most of his friends were graduating and moving on to other schools, Sarpong was ready to move on from GPC as well.
“My attitude when I attended GPC was that I wanted to come in and leave as fast as I can,” said Sarpong. “I did not want to do any business or research here, but I don’t want people to think that way. I want them to actually expand.”
Attending class was not the only thing that he participated in during his tenure at GPC.
Sarpong took full advantage of extra-curricular programs to maximize his efforts as a student.
Participating in programs like STEP, a program contained within STEM changed his outlook on GPC and his education.
He decided to stay at GPC and receive his Associate’s degree and then transfer.
The STEP program and its many professors helped the aspiring student to power through school and make the right decisions about his education.
Sarpong put emphasis on how powerful extra-curricular activities were to him and how every student should take advantages of their opportunities.
“Part of success in college is to find things outside of academics that make you happy,” said Sarpong. “Ms. Naranja Davis, the coordinator for the STEP program, actually pushed me to do research my last semester here at GPC, and I loved it.”
Sarpong advises students to be passionate about what you do as a student, that whatever you do, make sure that you are serious and it is something that you genuinely love.
During the extra time he spent at GPC for research, Sarpong came up with an idea for an organization that blossomed rather quickly.
After realizing how important the research that he obtained during his time at GPC, Sarpong realized that not everybody is fortunate enough to have the same research opportunities he was able to obtain.
He made it his goal to offer research opportunities to students in Ghana and break the massive gender deficit of research students in Ghana.
With much diligence, Sarpong successfully started his nonprofit organization and gained national attention.
With smooth sailing on the nonprofit side, he took classes at Georgia Tech for chemical engineering and at Emory University for neuroscience to continue his academic success.
Sarpong emphasizes on how being patient with his education paid off.
“Everything takes time, the classes you take here are no different at any other school,” said Sarpong. “I spent two years here and two years at Emory and took upper level neuroscience classes, and I am leaving Emory with a higher GPA than when I first left GPC.”
Shortly after the start-up of the nonprofit, Sarpong received an email from the presidential cabinet.
“At first I thought it was a scam so I ignored it, but after contacting an official from Ghana I realized it was not a scam, and actually gained the opportunity again to attend, so I did,” said Sarpong.
Last year, he visited the White House and met with various cabinet members to discuss research.
The presidential visits did not end at the White House, Sarpong has a scheduled visit with the Clintons in the near future in Miami, Fla.
From house cleaning to the White House, all it took was a dream.
The final thoughts from Sarpong were, “Thank you to my team members and friends for making this happen. My project started as a dream, if you have an idea, write it down and follow up on it, because you never know what can happen. If you’re passionate about something, you will get it done.”