Ms Olivia Agbenyeke, the 19-year-old academic prodigy from the Agbogbloshie slum in Accra, now has a very good chance of pursuing her dream of becoming a medical doctor and neurosurgeon.
Her dream had been in limbo due to financial challenges, but following a story published in the Thursday, April 11, 2013 issue of the Daily Graphic about her academic prowess, there has been an outpouring of offers by individuals and institutions to fully sponsor her through medical school.
Olivia’s prayer now is for any of the universities she has applied to this year to offer her admission.
“I am very happy. I thank God and all those who have expressed their support for me,” she told the Daily Graphic.
In spite of her challenging background as a slum-dweller, Olivia managed to overcome all the odds associated with the slum, plus a heavy domestic schedule that included working as a bartender at her father’s drinking spot till midnight or beyond, to excel at the West Africa Senior School Certificate Examination (WASSCE) in 2012.
She obtained grade A in seven subjects – Social Studies, English, Integrated Science, Core Mathematics, Elective Mathematics, Physics and Chemistry – and a grade B in Biology.
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Unfortunately, she could not enter the university to pursue her dream of becoming a medical doctor because her father could not afford to buy an admission form for her.
Until the Daily Graphic publication last Thursday, the brilliant, needy girl was on the verge of missing another opportunity to continue her education at the university due to financial reasons.
While at the St Joseph’s Junior High School in Accra where she had her basic education, and Keta Senior High School in the Volta Region, Olivia swept many academic prizes during speech and prize-giving day ceremonies.
After the publication of her story, many well-wishers, including her former schoolmates, have been paying glowing tribute to her via the Daily Graphic website: www.graphic.com.gh and the email address of this reporter for her achievements.
Prince Puplampu wrote on the Daily Graphic website: “I pray God see to her through. This lady is very brilliant, humble and committed. Back in SHS, as a house prefect, she was one of the finest the school had.”
Nyendu Bijour Setor also wrote on the Graphic website: “I pray that God in heaven shall make a way for her and her family. She really helped me in Mathematics back in school because we were in the same dormitory. Olivia, I know that God will never let your dreams fade away. Keep praying.”
Another former schoolmate with a profile name ‘disqus_tOzl6dKmdw’ gave a testimony of Olivia in a post on the Graphic website: “As her senior, I admired her a lot because she never changed.
If I say change, I mean juniors come to the school and seem humble and obedient but immediately they understand the ups and downs of school life, they become really rude due to peer pressure, but she stayed focused.”
“She managed her time well and did things that will benefit her in her studies. I remember when some of us were going to teachers for special punishments, she was found with those same strict teachers that we wished were not in the school, marking the exercises of her colleagues and seniors. I sincerely pray she gets help and I know she will.”
Other readers who were touched by Olivia’s story also shared some words of encouragement with her and the general public.
Elvis KKB said: “Can't control my tears as I read this piece. I sincerely believe God Almighty will make a way for her.”
For Joshua Mcanaman, “This is very remarkable and also a challenge to the youth of Ghana that determination counts.”
Appiah Mensah, one of the numerous readers who sent an e-mail to this reporter, wrote: “I had tears in my eyes as I read the piece. In fact, I am so moved that I am writing this response when I have not finished reading the story.”
“It was like a breath of fresh air and a departure from all the cacophony about ‘dumso dumso’, doctors’ strike and Members of Parliament emoluments which has always been, and will always be with us if we continue with irresponsible leadership and ignorant and opportunistic ‘followership,’" he added.
Story: Kofi Yeboah