Dorcas Attuabea Addo is an AIMS Ghana 2015 alumna who calls her admission into AIMS a miracle. We take a deep dive into her journey to learn more about the five years she spent at home before gaining admission into a tertiary institution and her progress after AIMS on this week’s #AlumoftheWeek.
Q: Tell us about yourself
Dorcas: I earned a BSc in Physics from the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST). I won’t say I engaged in any other activities, aside from my books and church.
I didn’t have many expectations because I started tertiary education five years after my Senior High School, so the dream was to graduate, get a job and marry. Interesting! Why? Because I thought I was getting older, and society expected me to settle down as a woman.
My journey to AIMS which has opened many doors for me, is such an intriguing one. I was introduced to AIMS by my lecturer, Mr Isaac Nkrumah, in my final year. He said, “Dorcas, I think you love mathematics more than physics, and you may want to apply the maths to physics”. He encouraged me to apply, which I did that same day, and he provided a recommendation letter on my behalf.
Because I was in my final year, and with my original plan, I didn’t value the opportunity that much. I remember just after graduation, I received a rejection mail from AIMS. It was OK for me then because that wasn’t the initial plan, and honestly, I didn’t even remember I applied.
Then one Sunday, I was planning to change my National Service (as a Teaching Assistant) from Kumasi to Accra because I couldn’t afford to go back to campus to secure accommodation and other expenses; that was when THE CALL came through from AIMS.
I still remember my interactions with the then Academic Director, Dr Prince Osei, who asked me to show proof of a certificate of completion of my first degree. I submitted it through an email. He said, “We are giving you an admission; when are you coming?” OMG! That was a miracle admission, and I still say it is.
Q: Tell us about your time at AIMS.
Dorcas: AIMS, I must say, is the reason I am who I am today.
Hurray! I finally made it to the AIMS Campus, as Dr. Osei personally drove me from Accra to the centre.
Weeks of serious work had started before I joined — lots of assignments to submit. The earlier months were my most challenging and sorrowful days because I did not have a solid mathematical background. I felt depressed and cried many times.
Did I ever feel like giving up? Yes! I did many times but kept on with determination because I had been enlightened about my new environment and career path. I felt alive because my dream of becoming a professor as a child was making sense to me at this point. My time at AIMS was a restoration of the five years I lost while staying at home.
Looking back, I had great mates who became friends and are family now. I want to say thanks to all those who supported us during our stay at AIMS and after.
The best memory I keep, which also became the best decision, is when Dr Prince Osei proposed an opportunity for research collaboration. Catherine Antwi advised and encouraged me to make use of the partial funding by AIMS to go further in doing the research Masters. Though I didn’t end up doing that research, the AIMS funding paved the way for continuity in the STEM field.
I can’t forget the food and other extracurricular activities organised by Sarah and Benedicta. They both did great, especially Sarah.
Q: Tell us about the impact AIMS has had on you.
Dorcas: The zeal to achieve excellence by believing in myself to be the Next Einstein is my greatest impact from AIMS. The miracle admission and restoration of my career exposed me to many opportunities in mathematics. So this month, as we join others to celebrate the International Day of Mathematics (IDM 2021), we say and believe indeed in “Mathematics for a Better World”.
The exposure to build networks with local and international researchers, entrepreneurship training, and many other AIMS activities have shaped my leadership and presentation skills.
The teamwork spirit, working in groups, and building collaborations have opened doors for me both locally and internationally through networking.
The desire to stand out as a leader and mentor the younger ones is motivated by AIMS’ impact in raising future generational scientists. I believe AIMS alumni worldwide can attest to the fact that being on the AIMS TICKET goes a long way in providing access to your dreams. “Ayekoo” to AIMS for helping to shape my future career.
I am currently on the QES-Advanced Scholars program (Queen Elizabeth Scholarship) at the University of Calgary, Canada, under Prof. Barry Sanders and Dr Prince Osei’s supervision. I must say the AIMS TICKET made this possible, and I am very privileged to have this opportunity.
Q: Which of the SDGs is most important/relevant to you? How do you plan on addressing it in your work?
Dorcas: I am very passionate about “Quality Education”, precisely the avenue for diverse, inclusive and equitable quality education for all.
I would want to see more spaces such as AIMS creating access, opportunities, and diversity of solutions.
The opportunity to teach as a graduate assistant at KNUST allows me to relate my teaching to the physical things around us and expose students to learning opportunities with creative ideas (a blend of theory with practical). The zeal to do this is to raise quality students in their bid to impact the community through their education, creativity, and innovations.
I hope to be actively involved in contributing to quality education and promoting the STEM agenda for more women to climb the ladder through community engagements, capacity building and collaboration.
Q: How is your current work contributing to the development of the continent?
Dorcas: In contemporary times, advances in Quantum Computing have generated much hype. Still, gauging progress in the field can be quite tricky due to the unique language, properties, and quantum mechanics algorithms. Nevertheless, the promise of quantum algorithms and the rapid pace of quantum architecture advancements merit a watchful eye on the field for the betterment of research and the economy; this is my current area of research, and it has many applications in data science, finance, oil reservoir, engineering and many other fields.
The emergence of countries in the Far East as dominant global forces is mostly attributed to the gains accrued through sustained investment in Quantum Computing. Economies and research are predominantly built on quantum dynamism and achievements in STEM. I look forward to the African community pursuing this field in the educational spectrum and contributing to the advancement of the economy.
Q: What’s your message to current AIMS students and young people across the continent?
Dorcas: Every great person you see today started like you, with ups and downs. Be patient, grow daily, and it will manifest just as you envisioned. Never give up!