Dreams to Reality
Growing up in western Ghana, Ernest Appiah dreamed of one day getting a master's degree in computer science from Carnegie Mellon University. Coming from a poor rural area of the peaceful African country, he thought it would never be more than a fantasy.
It was a stretch for Appiah to attend college. Before enrolling in an undergraduate program, he worked for many years after high school to help his parents support his five younger siblings. While attending Ashesi University in Accra, Appiah met up with a group of visiting students.
"When the students arrived I saw one had a T-shirt that said 'Carnegie Mellon University in Qatar' so I asked him about it. He told me it was the same program as in the U.S., it's just a branch campus," says Appiah. "I had no idea Carnegie Mellon was in Qatar."
Appiah also had no idea that T-shirt would change his life. The 24-year-old spent time with the Carnegie Mellon Qatar students who were in Ghana to work with Habitat for Humanity. He began to think about applying but knew he could not afford the tuition.
Carnegie Mellon students assured him that Qatar Foundation could assist him financially if he were to gain admission. They were right - a top-notch student, Appiah was accepted.
He now lives in a dormitory in Education City and has a part-time job on campus that enables him to send money to his family in Ghana so his younger siblings can stay in school. He is hoping to send enough money for his family to move from their rural farming village into the city, where there are more opportunities.
But Appiah wants to do more to help his country. He has begun efforts to send books from Doha to Ghana to help foster education for young people in his country.
"Education is really important. Back in Ghana families didn't used to understand that, but now they do. Those who have an education make a good living," he says. "I want to do everything I can to help."
When he finishes his undergraduate degree in Qatar, Appiah still hopes to fulfill his dream of earning a master's degree at Carnegie Mellon in Pittsburgh.
After that, he is open to whatever the future holds.