Student Highlight: Francis Cobbinah
Undergraduate from Ghana
Q: During President Obama's visit to Ghana in 2009, he hailed your country as a model for democracy in Africa. Could you please tell us more about Ghana and your hometown there?
Ghana is a small country with a little over 25 million people, located along the coast of West Africa. As is peculiar to Africans, I belong to a particular tribe known as the "Fantes," who trace their hometown to Elmina, a town about 120 'kilometers' from the Capital. Actually, in 1957 Ghana was the first country in Sub-Saharan Africa to gain independence from Britain, which makes us an English-speaking nation.
After a couple of revolutions, and the years following independence which I am told shook the very fabric of the country's political and economic landscape, Ghana now enjoys democracy with all of its complimentary benefits.
Interestingly, since President Obama's visit in 2009, a major election dispute rocked Ghana and caused the political affairs experts and some parts of the International community to predict the possibility of a civil war or even a revolution in the country. I must say, however, that the people of Ghana did commendably well and again cemented their position as the true beacon of democracy within the sub region; the aggrieved parties abhorred any form of violence and sought redress in the law courts. In the end, peace and democracy won. I guess these are all reasons why Ghana is continually hailed as a model for democracy in Africa and I am very proud of that.
Q: What do you miss most about home?
I miss the people! I describe them with the three H's; hospitable, hearty and hardworking. These basically sum up who Ghanaians are. They also exude so much positivity on a daily basis and even in the face of adversity, which I find not only remarkable but also greatly reassuring and welcoming. I do not know where Ghanaians get this trait from, or at least I have yet to find out, but what I do know is that it is absolutely impossible not to miss such hospitable, hearty and hardworking people.
Q: Texans also have a reputation for friendliness and hospitality. Do you see any similarities between Ghanaians and Texans?
Oh yes! That is very true. A person smiling at you in the elevator, a stranger randomly asking you how your day is going or even the sense of belonging you feel when you are around Ghanaians is the same thing you experience in Texas. I actually noticed these similarities a few days after stepping foot in Texas. I guess Ghanaians have a bit of that Texan hospitality spirit and friendliness in them, and Texans also have the Ghanaian spirit of hospitality and friendliness ingrained in them--which makes us very similar people.
Q: What are your leadership goals at Texas Tech?
My ultimate leadership goal would be to serve as the first International student to be President of the Student Body here at Texas Tech University. I know it is possible, but I am also a realistic person and as such, I know it is going to be a really cumbersome journey but I am willing to walk that road and to challenge the status quo. I am currently laying down foundations and preparing myself to make sure that when the opportunity arises, I will be able to take it. Let us all wait and see what the future holds.
Q: How has the Texas Tech community been helpful to you?
The Texas Tech community has been extremely helpful in so many different ways I could only imagine. They have been really supportive mentally, financially, spiritually, emotionally and even physically just to name a few facets. Let me also mention for a fact that I would not be here right now without the incredible love and support of several people around here; people who have reposed so much confidence in me, believed in me even when I was in no position to believe in myself, and also supported me in all of my endeavors. Their names will forever be etched on the slate of gratitude deep down in my heart.
Q: As an undergraduate majoring in Petroleum Engineering, what are your long-range career goals?
In the long term, I see myself in business as an entrepreneur. It has always been my dream to be founder of a Multinational Petroleum Corporation which channels a substantial percentage of its proceeds into championing the cause of the less privileged in society, as well as supporting young and ambitious people through school. Only after I have done this and impacted other lives as the 'Good Book' calls us to do will I have paid my dues to society. Until then, I am just a regular Joe who has his fears, hopes, dreams and aspirations and is trying his best to make meaningful contribution to our society.
Q: What are some of your favorite Texas Tech traditions?
My favorite Tech tradition is the annual homecoming. For the people who do not know what this is, homecoming is an exciting week full of activities for Texas Tech students. Such activities include a bonfire, parade, float competitions, open houses, award programs, and of course the homecoming football game.
There is always a lot to do during this time. Homecoming is also a moment when one can actually feel the Tech spirit at its optimum, and also the red and black which bonds us all as Red Raiders. The bonfire during homecoming always brings back childhood memories when the older people would have a bonfire and we the children would play around and have fun till our bodies could not carry us anymore.
The alumni that come into town during homecoming are also full of so much positive energy whenever you interact with them. You get to know about their fondest memories of the school that made them and why they have come to love this school so much. As a bonus, you also get to hear stories of the amazing things some of these Red Raiders are doing around the world today which is always nothing short of exemplary and inspiring.
Q: Is there anything else that you would like to add?
I would like to say that a great man once said, "Our successes are a product of our choices and not our abilities." And by making a choice to come to Texas Tech, I always find myself surrounded by people who believe in the beauty of my dreams and who have supported me right from the first day I stepped foot here. For me this kind of love and support is all that counts, and so I invite anyone who might be reading this and contemplating a Texas Tech education to make that choice and embolden that commitment. I can assure them that they will never regret it.
For those who have helped me come this far, I am and will continue to be eternally grateful for all of your support, advice and kind words. As we Red Raiders continue our educational journey, we will continue to "strive for honor" knowing and believing deep down in our hearts that indeed, "From here, it's possible."