Thunderbird Hosts Former First Lady of Ghana, Nana Konadu Agyeman-Rawlings
written by: Barry Kofi King '14
It was a calm breezy morning November 22, 2013 when I entered the admissions office to start my usual daily work as a Graduate Assistant. Following a lovely ritual of exchanging greetings with the ever-smiling Sandra, positive-spirited Michelle, and Katie, I was met with the most exciting news to begin my day – a prospective student had just called the school from my country of Ghana to make enquiries on our program offerings and was very interested in starting a graduate degree in Fall 2014.
He had heard of Thunderbird School of Global Management from a local radio feature, and read from the online and print media of an excellent speaker session hosted last Tuesday, November 19, 2013 for Ghana’s former first lady, Her Excellency, Mrs. Nana Konadu Agyeman-Rawlings. She is also the Founder and Executive President of the 31st December Women’s Movement (31stDWM) – a grassroots NGO that empowers women economically, politically, socially and culturally.
A moment of history that has lived through my heart since I met this extraordinary woman for the very first time in my entire life, after knowing her and the first family solely through sociopolitical news items on print and electronic media. Beyond sharing some of her personal challenges working to improve livelihoods of impoverished women and children through her influence as first lady, she carefully laid out a premise for her argument that “GDP alone is not a sufficient measure of well being,” while speaking on the topic, “Development, Politics, and National Government: The Impact on African Women." She had earlier shared her work mantra, centrally themed from the quote "If you educate a man, you educate an individual but if you educate a woman, you educate a whole nation" (Dr. Kwegyir Aggrey).
Sitting through the lecture, I couldn’t help but understand from another perspective the reasons why Thunderbird breeds leaders who see beyond the ordinary in every situation. For once, it felt as if she had been through a Thunderbird experience when her profile was read out, but she was more than one of us – an influencer from the other end for T-birds and other upcoming leaders. The calmness and general warmness with which she received and answered questions from the audience and interacted with them afterwards was really amazing – a very humbling presence.
To crown such an awesome time, shaking her hand and presenting her with a Thank You gift on behalf of the school was a unique moment which echoed a statement I made to Mrs. Erika Amoako-Adjei, the amazing woman who made all this happen, "This was simply an excellent night of brilliance."
I look forward to seeing Thunderbird for Good build on this opportunity and extend its reach to Africa, changing lives - many women at a time.
Thank you Your Excellency, we have been really honored by your presence amongst us.
Thank you, The Office of President Penley, for co-sponsoring the event and providing refreshments for the reception that followed.
Thank you, Thunderbird for Good for organizing the visit, coordinating with student clubs, and hosting this distinguished guest.
Thanks, to the African Business Club for co-sponsoring the event and doing a great job of bringing the campus community out.
From left: Djoudie Etoundi Essomba '13, Danielle Rinderknecht '14, Erika Amoako-Agyei, President Larry Penley, H.E. Mrs. Agyeman-Rawlings, Nicole Mueller '14, and Barry Kofi King '14