Every week the Berkeley Wall of Fame selects notable alumni to feature on their site. Recently, the Wall of Fame welcomed UC Berkeley alumnus Patrick Awuah, who received his M.B.A in 1999.
Awuah left his home in Ghana in 1985 with $50 in his pocket and a full scholarship to Swarthmore College. Today he is one of Africa’s most respected leaders. After rising through the ranks at Microsoft, the birth of his first child inspired him to shift his focus toward home — and the belief that higher education could revitalize a nation beset by poverty and corruption. He enrolled at Berkeley-Haas and turned an audacious idea to establish Africa’s first private liberal arts college into a student project. Founded in 2002, Ashesi University (which means “beginning”) has graduated more than 500 students and is setting its sights on expanding the academic program and recruiting more African students beyond Ghana. “There have been times when it has seemed like Mission Impossible, but magic is happening,” he said in the Berkeley-Haas magazine. Although Awuah told CNN that only 5 percent of Ghana’s children go to college, he is courageously developing a generation of ethical, entrepreneurial leaders who will one day run the country. Follow him on Twitter @PatrickAwuahJr.