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Student Uses QCC as Stepping Stone to Her Future

December, 2018
  •  From left: Adrienne Linnell, QCC student Maame Amoah-Dankwah and Darcy Carlson
    From left: Adrienne Linnell, Program Administrator, STEM Initiatives; QCC student Maame Amoah-Dankwah and Darcy Carlson, STEM Starter Academy Project Coordinator

A dream to go to Harvard University is what initially led QCC student Maame Amoah-Dankwah to Worcester and Quinsigamond Community College.  A native of Ghana, Ms. Amoah-Dankwah came to the U.S. to live with her mom after graduating from high school, with dreams of attending medical school and an even bigger sense of purpose that one day she would help others.

“My parents separated when I was 11 or so. My mom went to the U.S. with my younger brother who was sick and I stayed in Ghana with my dad,” she said.

In Ghana, Ms. Amoah-Dankwah said every high school student takes an exam at the end of their high school career, which basically decides their career path.

“My goal was to get into medical school with eight ‘As’ and I got six out of eight so the medical school path was blocked for me,” she said, which gave her the drive to move with her mother to the U.S..”I thought I might have a shot at medical school.”

Once in the U.S. Ms. Amoah-Dankwah realized she would need to take the SATs in order to even be considered for Harvard, but would have to wait a year to take them.

“I didn’t want to do that and since my mother was here at QCC in the nursing program, I thought it would be a great start to go to QCC,” she continued. “She said, ‘why wait a whole year when you can go to QCC now.’”

Ms. Amoah-Dankwah heeded her mother’s suggestion and took the Accuplacer test and entered QCC, initially as a pre-pharmacy student. A chemistry class she took from QCC Chemistry Professor Tetteh Abbeyquaye solidified her interest in chemistry and she quickly changed to a chemistry major.

“This was not planned, but here I am two years later majoring in Chemistry. QCC was a great start and helped me to learn how the (educational) system worked. QCC was much more flexible and I got to learn what it was like in college,” she said.

While Harvard may not be in the cards today, Ms. Amoah-Dankwah has set her sights on Johns Hopkins University after graduating from QCC.

“My goal is still to become a doctor but I’m now open to other things like research,” she said.

Her interest in research came after working on the development of a new drug for Type 1 diabetes through a scientific research project she did this past summer at Boston University (BU).The project was funded by a Research Experiences for Undergraduates grant (“REU”), a program she found out about from QCC alumna and friend Narda Bondah, a friend she has known since high school in Ghana. Ms. Bondah did a project (through the REU program) – preventing regurgitation of blood in tissue engineered heart valves at Worcester Polytechnic Institute.

 Ms. Amoah-Dankwah has applied to different colleges and universities and said the summer project solidified her interest in research, but it still “ties in” with her life goals.

 “I’m glad I started here at QCC. There are so many opportunities. You can start here and go anywhere. If I went anywhere else, I wouldn’t have had the opportunities,” she said. “Everyone here cares and it’s tremendous. I had support no matter what office or classroom I walked into. Everyone here is great and I am very grateful.”