- 18-year-old Teni Agana wins top award at Ashesi's graduation
- Teni is a model representation of Ashesi’s motto; she is the recipient of the Presidential Award, the highest award a student can receive at Ashesi
A young lady who used to be a kayayo (head porter) has overcome the odds to emerge as a graduate at the Ashesi University and recipient of the Presidential Award.
Teni Agana successfully graduated as a member of the class of 2018 but the road was never an easy one as she hustled carrying people’s loads to pay her fees.
Narrating how she managed to navigate her way through the tough times, she said the whole dream started when she once spotted the photo of a college graduate on the floor.
According to her, despite being just a little girl at the time, she kept the photo and vowed to one day become just like the graduate in the said picture.
“I found the picture as a child, and I kept it on me at all times,” Teni narrated.
“I really wanted to be that person someday and even though my family could not afford to pay my fees, I was ready to do what it takes. So I knew I had to find a way to fund my education myself.”
Coming from a poor home and losing her father at a very tender age, Teni moved from Bolgatanta, where she used to live with her parents, to Kumasi, to become a kayayo in order to raise money for her education.
She subsequently used the money she raised to fund her Senior High School education, before later passing out to the Ashesi University as a MasterCard Foundation scholar.
At the University, Teni‘s impact and excellence made her the proud recipient of the Presidential Award, the highest award a student can receive at Ashesi.
Reliving her early experiences in the University, she said: “During my first semester, I failed a couple of courses, including Programming, because I had never used a computer before and I was then learning to type in coding class.
“Fortunately, staff and faculty especially my academic adviser were really supportive. They guided me to resources on campus including the Math and Writing resource centers. By my second semester, I had improved my grade point average from a 1.25 to a 3.0 (out of 4) and in subsequent semesters, made it onto the Dean’s list.“
Having struggled to attain University education, Teni is very much aware of how difficult it is for people of similar backgrounds to make it to the top. As a result, she was instrumental in raising funds to see four girls through their senior secondary school education. She also led fundraising efforts to sponsor the education of 15 brilliant students from the Berekuso township, where she also teaches mathematics to children.
She again served as a Mathematics tutor with the Berekuso Maths Project and Class tutor for Kayacare, an initiative that provides safe spaces for children of female porters in Accra’s marketplaces.
“It is hard when you have worked so hard to earn some money and then you have to give it up for a long-term investment such as school. The reward isn’t evident in the short-term and for many of us, it becomes an unrealistic goal and too much of a sacrifice. So it is easy to give up,“ she said, in relation to how difficult it was to work as a kakayo and put all the money back into her education.
Teni‘s long-term goal is to eventually build a school for kayayei girls to keep them centered on the importance of education, and to keep them off the streets and help them avoid risks associated such as rape.
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