Back in Presec, my senior high school, a couple of friends encouraged me to run for a portfolio in the SRC. They believed “I was good at talking”. In these parts of the world at the student level and to a large extent national level, being well spoken is enough to get you in consideration for office. I refused to heed to their suggestions.
Even though I was flattered by what they saw in me, I knew very well I was not cut for the job. At least by the de-facto standards set in the schools for leaders/prefects. A Presec prefect usually has the shiniest of black shoes whose surfaces can act as mirrors. The lines parting each leg of a trouser worn by a prefect or wannabe prefect is as sharp as the sword of a Middle Eastern executioner. And then there is this thing the prefects do with their tucked in shirts which makes it look like napkin decorations at a Chinese buffet restaurant.
Sartorially, I could not be in contention for any position. I was one of the rebels in a school of colonial era looking school boys. Sandals were the go to footwear and when I ironed my khaki trousers and white shirts, it was for access to the dining hall and not to impress a reverend father.
So the “spe” looking boys got the nod. Some were not well spoken and could not stand up and speak out when it was needed. But they played the part by literally wearing it out. That is what branding is!
Last week, I emceed an entrepreneurship program where one of the guests spoke on branding. After his 30 minutes, a number of things became lucid. Vodafone continues to drum “power to you” even though internet access in my hall, a part of the CAPITAL CITY is never stable. Subconsciously, we believe the network does empower us but the reality is far from what they claim. The least said about the network which is “everywhere you go” the better.
Conscious branding achieves so much in a very short span, it is immensely crazy. I fought talking about Ashesi on my blog again but for expediency, I have to. There is no doubting the fact that students up that hill are smart but there are some who for want of a better word, are your average Joe academically. That is a self-evident truth statistically but no one in their right senses trump the bad nuts. It is the Melton Fellows, Goldman Sachs interns and stories on millions of grants the school receives from multinational companies which dominates the discussion on Ashesi on social media spaces.
When a student up that hill gets awarded for the most mundane of things like “being the first to walk through the renovated arrival hall of Kotoka” or anything remotely silly, you be best believe you will read about it on the school’s website and Facebook page. Not to say that is what dominates the school’s website but I believe you get my drift.
Across the Atlantic Ocean, Business Insider website frequently carries stories on the “…most outstanding students” in the Ivy leagues and other top tier schools. That list is a mecca of the most impressive things students my age are doing while I struggle to “slide into the DM” of Khadija. From teenagers making breakthrough research in oncology to million dollar app creators.
It is a list which will ginger you to get off your lazy bum, delete all the “Big bang theory” back to back episodes and download a tutorial on the Python language. The question however is, do we have such students standing in lines buying beans or walking the lengths of the corridors trying to find Wi-Fi?
Making breakthroughs in Cancer research at a young age is an extremely prodigious feat which needs the kind of ambience students in the states have. How can Adwoa come up with some sophisticated way to detect brain tumor early in life while she treks miles for water?
Other than that, the kind of students found on the business insider lists can easily be spotting around in Legon. For the Georgetown student who made the list due to his debate exploits, there is a national champion I know of who has a training program running for high schools. He is a bespectacled third year student of Economics. You should get to meet him sometime.
For the Stanford student teaching students how to code in India, there is a lady at the Engineering department who knows so many coding languages and has an outreach program for underprivileged students. And then there is the student doing advocacy for women at the same Stanford University. Well let me tell you about this good friend of mine who is gradually awakening women to the tabooed movement called feminism and how it actually is not about self-hate. I could spend thousands of words talking about her but for brevity sake I cease.
This is not an attempt to belittle what these other students are doing but it is an effort to show that Legon also has some badass students strolling on its campus. So for the next few weeks or so, depending on how final year academic stress decides to whoop me in the behind, I will be bringing you some of the most amazing profiles of over achievers right here on our campus.
“Legon’s Most Outstanding Students” is a pet project I have been mulling over for quite some time now and with graduation looming around the corner, what better time than to get it done. Readers are more than welcome to suggest names of students whose achievements transcend an exam paper and a lecture hall.