On 29th July, the Yale Young African Scholars (YYAS) program kicked off in Accra, Ghana. Akili Dada’s two outstanding Young Changemakers representatives, Phyllis and Yvonne share reflections on the seven-day high-intensity academic and leadership residential program.

Written by Phyllis N.

Teamwork Makes the Dream Work

My experience at the Yale Young African Scholars program was getting better each dawning day. However, on Wednesday morning, the bathroom in my room had a technical problem. When I walked in the shower, the door could not lock. Once I was done using the shower, I realized that water had spilled into my room causing a huge pool. I was very worried that I would be late for the morning seminar as I had to clean up. Fortunately, my roommate offered to help me clean up which gave me enough time to prepare myself and head out for the morning session on time.

Make you Choice

The sessions were aligned towards university and career preparedness. I learnt that I should be open-minded in regards to my career choices. You should not choose a career based on your family or friends’ decisions. You should analyse your passions. This guided my career choice.

Step by Step

One of the most valuable thing I learnt in the workshops is that leadership is a process. You cannot wake up one day and decide that you are a leader. It is not a one day decision! Being a leader is taking deliberate step-by-step choices advised by your goals. Being patient with the process of leadership is key to being a quality and steadfast leader.

This program opened my eyes to the many opportunities afforded to young people. When opportunities present themselves, take advantage of them and learn all that you can from that experience. I took this advice to heart and made contact with administrators from different universities across Africa and abroad.

Seize all Opportunities

I learnt that there are many prestigious universities that I can apply to. My socioeconomic status does not handicap me from applying for these academic opportunities. I learnt that various universities such as Ashesi University, African Leadership University and Stanford University have merit-based and need-based aid scholarships. I should seize these opportunities and apply.

In order to be accepted into good universities, I learnt that I have to hone my leadership skills. Leadership skills will earn me merit marks in my application. The university application process is very rigorous and competitive. I need to stand out amongst many applicants by proving my leadership skills.

Utilize Recent Knowledge

During Akili Dada’s Young Changemakers training sessions, I learnt about the aspect of personal branding. Having learnt about personal branding, I used this knowledge during my consultation time with various university administrators. I engaged with administrators from Stanford University University, Columbia University, Emory University, USIU-Africa, Ashesi University and African Leadership University.

I made sure to present myself appropriately. I really wanted the university administrators to remember me. I was very happy to interact with the Ashesi University administrator. We interacted very well and she liked the ideas I shared with her about my community enablement project. She was happy to know that I hold a leadership position in my high school.

I also got to engage with the administrator from African Leadership University. I got his contact information and I am planning to maintain a conversation with him as I prepare for university. I made a resolution to apply to African Leadership Academy. After the workshop, I felt that that is where I belong because they offer quality leadership courses.