University of Cincinnati junior Sally Amkoa from Nairobi, Kenya, studies economics in the Carl H. Lindner College of Business. She describes her experience at UC as “awesome,” but it was hard to adapt to the American culture.
Amkoa first heard about UC in 2010, when she met two alumni from Kenya – two inspiring women who both studied engineering. Amkoa received the Zawadi Africa Education Fund scholarship, a program for academic gifted girls from Africa to pursue an education in the U.S. This was the beginning of Amkoa’s academic journey abroad.
Her freshman year was tough; she did not know anyone and the American culture was new to her. Even the weather was unfamiliar.
“Toward December I met another Kenyan student who graduated from UC, and she had to teach me how to dress up and how to layer up for winter,” she says. “One of my friend’s parents bought me winter boots and a scarf.”
The American culture is different when it comes to conveniences too.
“Here, it’s expected for you to have electricity when you go to your dorm, and when there is no electricity, it’s a huge deal. At home it’s like, ‘oh so we don’t have electricity today.’ For me that was really different,“ she says.
Freshman year was definitely the hardest, Amkoa says, but opportunities started to open up after she got to know more people and through her involvement with campus activities. Amkoa serves as the co-director of International Affairs for Student Government. Through the organization Business Fellows, she provides academic, social and professional support for incoming freshmen. She also participates in the African American organization ADVANCE, which helps students make the transition from college to a professional career.
Amkoa sees her professors as one of her biggest blessings because most of them really love what they do.
“To be taught by someone whose passion is to help you out and to steer you in the right direction in the terms of your career has been a really big thing for me,” she says. “The reason why I’m an economics major is because I had an awesome teacher my first year.”
Amkoa says that studying at UC has been one of her best decisions because of the opportunities she has had here. She has been able to study abroad in Costa Rica, Panama and a co-op in South Africa.
“The fact that we have so many resources here at UC that makes this possible for me, is just amazing,” she says.
Amkoa also received the Kolodzik Business Scholar Program and Economics Department Book Prize for her academic achievements. She looks forward to continuing her studies and is interested in a global career related to economic development. She has the ambition to work for the World Bank or the International Monetary Fund one day.