Editor’s note: This story is part of a series of profiles of notable fall 2023 graduates.
In 2012, Arizona State University partnered with the Mastercard Foundation to provide access to quality education to high-achieving African students who face socioeconomic barriers.
To date, the Mastercard Foundation Scholars Program at Arizona State University has supported 304 scholars over eight cohorts focused on both undergraduate and graduate degrees through an immersive experience at ASU.
A final cohort of 10 scholars is underway, leveraging the degree programs offered through ASU Online — allowing scholars to remain at their host institution in Ghana, while obtaining their undergraduate degree from Ashesi University and a graduate degree from ASU in five years.
This fall, five scholars from the last cohort will graduate from the program.
Christabel Ama Agbottah, Richida Pokuaa Gyimah, Kekeli Mensah, Ropafadzo Danai Sacirarwe, and Eric Kwabena Tetteh will graduate with a master’s degree in business analytics, offered by W. P. Carey School of Business.
Over the years, the partnership with the Mastercard Foundation has allowed ASU to contribute to increased access to higher education — graduate education in particular — for African youth, said Yeukai Mlambo, executive director of Africa initiatives and interim director of the Mastercard Foundation Scholars Program at ASU.
“Leveraging online learning provides an education pathway that enables continued scholar engagement and contributions to one’s host institution and community,” Mlambo said. “In addition to the academic knowledge these scholars have gained, through engaging in online learning they have also demonstrated resilience, adaptability, leadership, critical thinking and self-directed learning skills that will continue to be important in their leadership journeys beyond graduation. We are proud of the scholars and their accomplishments.”
By empowering these scholars with a quality education, the program seeks to develop a generation of leaders who can create positive change in their communities, ultimately fostering social and economic development.
During their time at ASU, they excelled in academic pursuits, embedded themselves in the university community through extracurricular activities and pursued their passions — building meaningful connections with peers, professors and mentors.
“These relationships can offer support, guidance and insights that contribute to your personal and academic growth,” Tetteh said. “Education is not just about acquiring knowledge but also about developing critical thinking skills, adaptability and a passion for continuous learning.”
We spoke to the graduates about their time at ASU, online learning, and their aspirations post-graduation. Here are their stories.
Christabel Ama Agbottah
Motivated by a desire to contribute meaningfully to community well-being, Mastercard Foundation Scholar Christabel Ama Agbottah from Anloga, Ghana, actively engaged in leadership and volunteer activities at ASU. But what surprised her the most was the infusion of innovative teaching methods at the university.
“ASU Online embraces cutting-edge technology, challenging conventional notions of education,” Agbottah said. “The virtual classrooms became dynamic spaces, reshaping my perspective on how knowledge can be effectively disseminated in a digital landscape.”
Beyond academia, her commitment to empowering young individuals was the source of inspiration for launching her entrepreneurial venture, Chrisbel Accessories, a jewelry business with a distinct focus on empowering youth through avenues of self-expression.
“I harbor a vision for a utopian world devoid of socio-economic disparities and human conflicts,” she said. “I am committed to playing a role in realizing this vision through my academic, entrepreneurial and philanthropic endeavors.”
Kekeli Mensah's journey is marked by industriousness and goal-driven determination, qualities extending far beyond the confines of a traditional academic setting.
Mensah — from Aflao, Ghana — is the founder of the Cupids Foundation, a nongovernmental organization with a laser-focused mission: empowering sexually assaulted teenage mothers through initiatives that provide vocational skills and raise funds to deliver essential services.
“My overarching commitment is to assist as many individuals as possible in living fuller lives without fear of discrimination or inequity,” Mensah said.
His multifaceted approach includes academic pursuits, volunteer work and organizational leadership, all converging into a powerful force for positive change.
“One of the most surprising and perspective-changing aspects of my journey at ASU Online has been the emphasis on interdisciplinary collaboration,” Mensah said. “While the core of my studies revolves around advanced analytics, data modeling and decision-making, I've had the opportunity to engage with students and faculty from diverse backgrounds.”
The program has equipped him with a robust foundation in analytics, as well as the ability to apply these skills across a myriad of real-world scenarios and the evolving needs of the industry, he said.
“Successful analytics professionals are not just experts in data. They are strategic thinkers capable of driving innovation and solving complex business challenges through collaboration and adaptability,” Mensah said.
Richida Pokuaa Gyimah
In the realm of data analytics, where precision meets insight, emerges Richida Pokuaa Gyimah. Her journey at ASU is a testament to her commitment to making a difference in the world.
“I realized the deficiency of data-driven decisions in Africa and the increasing significance of analytics in the contemporary world,” Gyimah said. “I was fascinated by the opportunity to pursue a master's program in a field where I could leverage my analytics skills to contribute to enhancing business processes. This realization likely played a pivotal role in my decision to study business analytics, combining my passion for analytics with the goal of making a positive impact on business practices in Africa.”
Gyimah’s dedication and excellence were further recognized when she was nominated to join the prestigious Beta Gamma Sigma international business honorary society, an acknowledgment of her contributions to the world of business education. She attributes her success to the support of the Mastercard Foundation, a guiding force in her transition and growth at ASU.
Beyond the world of data and algorithms, as a campus ambassador for W. P. Carey, Gyimah pursued her academic goals while also extending her support to incoming online students. For Gyimah, success knows no boundaries, and she passionately believes in the potential for achievement regardless of one's background.
Ropafadzo Danai Sacirarwe
Recognized for her notable achievements as a distinguished graduate student, Ropafadzo Danai Sacirarwe was named the 2023 Business Analytics Dean’s Medalist by the W. P. Carey School of Business.
In addition to her academic pursuits, the Zimbabwean native was actively engaged in extracurricular activities. Notably, she was a part of Venture Devils, collaborating with her co-founder on Toda Health Beverages.
“I discovered my passion for problem-solving and devising strategies that drive broad social impact,” she said. “While my aspiration for a medical career waned, I found a way to assist individuals and effect substantial societal change. Pursuing business analytics at Arizona State University became the ideal path for me to become a critical thinker and problem solver on a large scale.”
During her time at ASU as a Mastercard Foundation Scholar, she was invited to join Beta Gamma Sigma, the business honor society, further underscoring her commitment to excellence. Sacirarwe also participated in a summer immersive experience at the Tempe campus, where she was able to get industry exposure.
“Earning my degree opened doors, notably the chance to lead an analytics-driven project with Arizona Lottery,” she said. “Completing this project in a fraction of the expected time while surpassing expectations honed my practical skills.”
Eric Kwabena Tetteh
Motivated by a profound desire to contribute meaningfully to community well-being, Mastercard Foundation Scholar Eric Kwabena Tetteh described his path as “a journey of hard work, miracles and scholarships.”
Together with his cohort mates, Tetteh — who hails from Somanya, Ghana — completed a summer immersion program on the Tempe campus, where he was exposed to a hybrid of online and in-person opportunities, including his involvement with Venture Devils.
“Venture Devils is a dynamic platform that goes beyond the conventional boundaries of extracurricular engagement,” he said. “I had the opportunity to connect with like-minded individuals, receive mentorship from experienced professionals, and access valuable grooming and funding opportunities for startup ventures. While it might not fit the traditional definition of extracurricular activities, my experience with Venture Devils has been a rich and transformative part of my journey at ASU.”
Choosing a university is a pivotal decision and requires careful consideration of various factors. In his quest for an institution that aligns with his educational and career aspirations, ASU Online emerged as the clear choice, Tetteh said.
Enthusiastic about applying the knowledge and skills he gained during his time at ASU, he aspires to make a positive impact in the business community,
“My goal is to contribute to the fields of investment, accounting and finance, utilizing business analytics as a powerful tool to inform strategic decision-making,” Tetteah said.
Jessica Velazquez contributed to this article.
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