Groomed in Ghana to Shine in the UK: Mentoring Story of Lois Afua Damptey.
Lois Afua Okyerewaa Damptey is a PhD student at the Open University in the UK. She is a STEM advocate interested in using funscience medium to curb the fear of science among the younger generation. She is the Coordinator for Sankofa Mentorship Hub, Synergies Institute Ghana, Secretary for Vacation Initiatives in Science, Africa, and a mentor at MeetMentors.
“Mentorship is the key to extraordinary success”
Dr. Mike Murdock
Coming Out Of My Shell
During my undergraduate days at the University of Ghana, I know I wasn’t the type that could be described as a teacher's pet. And, this was simply because, naturally, I’m a shy person. I always enjoyed being in my shell! Consequently, I didn’t have any close relationships with any of my lecturers until in my final year. Prof. David Dodoo-Arhin - who later became my mentor, was one of my lecturers at Department of Materials Science and Engineering. I started looking up to him for mentoring in the year 2015. Since then, he has been supportive until this day. It was after I connected with him, and got out of my shell, that I realized there were opportunities out there - massive academic and career support.
Coming out of my comfort zone
For the most part of my early stages, I didn’t like to take chances. I was the move through the system kind of a person. However, Prof. Dodoo-Arhin encouraged me to get out of that comfort zone. He challenged me to take risks. He always said ''failures are going to come your way, but giving up is not an option'' He encouraged me with his personal story – how he struggled through university, studying and working at the same time to support himself. He thought me the need for skills development, the essence of networking, and the boldness to accept challenges. He modelled to me hard work and dedication. There was once I saw him sitting right on a lab floor doing an experiment. That experience really challenged me to climb high, to the point where I could be of influence.
Coming Out To Be Impacted
I’m a product of mentoring. My research supervisor Prof. Johnson Kwame Efavi recommended my work, which later landed me an award with the Leverhulme Royal Society, enabling my first travel-to-work in an international lab at the European Bioenergy Research Institute in Aston University, Birmingham. In addition, Dr. Agyei Tuffour always pushed me to take up volunteering opportunities to expand my leadership development. My final year project at the University of Ghana was an international collaboration which needed a lot of cutting edge research and analysis. Through my mentor’s networks, I was able to access resources needed (which were unavailable in my department) to complete the project.
Coming Out To Influence
The risks I took based on his mentorship always paid off! Currently, I’m pursuing a PhD in Engineering and Innovation at the Open University in the UK. My mentor strongly recommended me for this position. It is through my current research that I got a chance to share my findings with the UK parliament on March 9, 2020. Once, I got the Robert Bosch Stiftung Award for Young African Researchers which allowed me to travel to France for studies. I also served as Vice President of African Materials Research Society. I'm now Coordinator for Sankofa Mentorship Hub, Synergies Institute Ghana and Secretary for Vacation Initiatives in Science, Africa. These media are helping promote STEM using fun science activities.
Coming Out With My Voice
Embrace rejections and mistakes, but strive to make things better. No one has got it all figured out, so just keep trying. Create the story of your life. Wherever you find yourself, make the best out of it. Leave a mark and be ready to take up new tasks. Don’t ever take ‘No’ for an answer.