A Christmas Gift •Victoria Akinsehinwa gets first degree at 53
Victoria Akinsehinwa is a woman who has proven that education really has no age limit.
She just bagged her first degree in Information System Sciences from the Regent University College in Mallam, Accra at the age of 53. She currently works with the Odukponkpehe Rural Bank, Kasoa branch as the Systems Administrator, the highest position in the I.T department of the company.
She was the oldest graduating student as of December 2022 in that institution and secured a Second Class Upper honours. Mrs Akinsehinwa views her achievement as God’s blessing and a Christmas present she would never forget. Telling her story to The Mirror in Accra last Monday, she said hoped to inspire others to reach for the sky regardless of age, background, societal pressures or stereotypes.
The Mirror (TM): Tell us a bit about yourself...
Victoria Akinsehinwa (VA): I was born on June 27, 1969 as the only girl of my parents children. My maiden name is Victoria Amoah. Growing up, my typical African parents believed the kitchen was my place regardless of how intelligent I was. Funnily enough, I used to bully my siblings academically. I did menial jobs as a cleaner and a house help while hoping for better opportunities. I have been married for 16 years and counting with two adopted children.
TM: What motivated you to get your first degree?
VA: Well, I had to take a leap of faith and upgrade myself if I wanted a place in society and in my firm. My marriage took a dark turn and my job was being threatened. Also, because my parents never believed in girl-child education, I never had the privilege of continuing my schooling after middle school (Junior High). I was instead forced into catering. I had to re-assess my life.
I did not want to go back to school because I was discouraged because of my age. However, at 49 years, it dawned on me: “Victoria, your dream has always been to climb the educational ladder. Why are you listening to the naysayers? Remember, in four years you will be 53, older but not wiser. I listened to the tiny voice in my head and applied as a mature student with Regent. It was the best decision of my life”.
TM: How were the lectures?
VA: Honestly, I was at a loss. Everything was so new, the books, the technology, etc. My mates were in their 20’s and 30’s so I was shy and embarrassed that I would be laughed at. Surprisingly, they were really helpful. I already had a background in I.T. so I was okay with the courses but Statistics really showed me pepper. Also, I don’t look my age so it was easy to blend in.
TM: About that, how did you manage to stay this fresh at 53?
VA: Ha-ha, good genes, I guess. I eat a lot of fruits and vegetables too and drink warm water every morning. No exercise, just good diets, organic foods and prayers.
TM: Was your marriage ever an obstacle to your success?
VA: At a point, yes. My husband isn’t really an ambitious person so I had to fight for myself. He complained whenever I decided to do something. We argued a lot about time, attention and the home. I allocate a lot of time to my home but I also needed to build my life so I am not found wanting. He was reluctant at first about the school but later warmed up.
TM: What does the first degree mean to you and your career?
VA: This degree has accorded me a lot of respect and pride. My colleagues no longer look down on me or speak ill behind my back. I have also gained a lot more insight into how the world works, social classes, scientific and practical approaches to life, etc.
Career-wise, I have worked with Odukponkpehe Rural Bank for 14 years without any proper qualifications. Just a short diploma course in Human Resources but I work with the I.T department. My job has been threatened over the years because I am the “unqualified” Systems Manager. Therefore, this degree means I get to retain my position and also stop the backlash.
TM: What does the future hold for Mrs Akinsehinwa?
VA: The future is bright, forward ever, backward never. I will pursue further a Master’s degree but my adopted son needs to go to school first. He will be attending Accra Technical University, God willing next year. It is my hope that this certificate opens bigger doors for me.
I also want to champion a course on Girl-child education and allow children to choose their own career paths. I was a victim, as I was not allowed to go to school so I had to survive in some way. The girl-child is as capable as a boy; limiting their abilities only breeds timidity. Parents should treat their children equally and with love.
TM: What advice would you give to anyone holding back on their future?
V.A: I believe life is dynamic, if you want to keep up the pace, you have to put in the work. It is never too late to take that bold step. Life is not a race but if you crawl too slowly, make excuses, blame spiritual forces or listen to negative advice just like I did, you will find yourself wanting. I want to urge everyone out there to take a chance on themselves, explore and be the best versions of themselves regardless of age.
TM: I guess you will be celebrating this Christmas very well.
VA: Yes! I am so grateful to God, I will be dancing all the way to church and the 31st All Night Service. I want to wish everyone a big Merry Christmas and a Prosperous New Year. 2023 is your year of testimony, Amen!