By one and a half years old, most children are busy taking their first wobbly steps and beginning to form simple words, and this is the limit of their achievements.
But Ruth Gyan-Darkwa’s timeline has been a little different. 18 year old Ph.D. student at the University of New Mexico in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, was already beginning schooling in his native Ghana around that age.
“I started school in one year, seven months,” she said.
Gyan-Darkwa was nine when she started junior high school, 10 when she entered high school, and 13 when she graduated from high school and entered the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, which was the youngest in the history of Thanks to her hard work and ability to learn quickly, she was able to skip a few grades and sit and pass her basic education exam at the age of nine, which allowed her to enter middle school.
UNM’s Office of Global Education said she is the university’s youngest international graduate student.
She came from an extravagant family, with eight siblings, mostly homeschooled by her math teacher father, with some public schooling. All siblings are equally sharp in their schooling, and this has attracted so much media attention in Africa that it already has its own Wikipedia page.
“My dad didn’t have the best education, so he wanted to teach us.”
The teenager arrived in the United States in early October (she was scheduled to arrive in time for the start of the semester in August, but experienced significant delays in obtaining her visa). However, within days of her arrival, she jumped straight into graduate work, working with her advisor, Marek Osinski, a professor of electrical and computer engineering.
She was attracted to UNM for graduate school because she has an uncle who is also a Ph.D. student at Osinski (in the Optical Science and Engineering program), Dominic Bosomtvi. His research focus is Optics and Lasers.
So far, the one course he’s enrolled in is going well, even though he had to do something halfway through the semester. Gyan-Darkwa is already working in the Center for High Technology Materials and said she isn’t worried about the rest of her coursework, but acknowledges that the lab and coursework could be more intensive. Still, his goal is to complete his Ph.D. By the end of 2025.
Her ultimate goal is to work at Sandia National Laboratories, Los Alamos National Laboratory or NASA.
With the typical graduate student starting at at least 21 or 22 years old (and many significantly older), what motivated Gyan-Darqua to progress through his educational journey at such a rapid and dedicated pace Is?
She said it was her father’s passion for educating his children, as well as a strong religious belief, that guided her through her intense schedule and kept her focused. When he and his siblings were homeschooled, the schedule was rigorous.
“We usually sat in class every day at 8-6 and sometimes at 8-8,” she said.
Although she occasionally attended public school, she preferred homeschooling.
“There were a lot of long breaks in public school where we did nothing,” she said. “And at home, I wasn’t afraid to ask questions, so I felt better.”
After she was given the green light to go to the US, Gyan-Darkwa traveled alone from Ghana, her first time on a large airplane and her first trip to the US. Her journey was from Ghana to John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York. City, then Minneapolis, then Albuquerque.
Even though all of this is a lot for a person of any age, let alone a teenager, Gyan-Darkwa has a lot of support at UNM. In addition to her advisor in her Ph.D. program, he is also supported by the School of Engineering mentoring team.
Carol Jimerson is the senior academic advisor for the graduate program in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering and was part of the team that helped secure her as a student. Although she hasn’t met him in person yet, she looks forward to working with him in the years to come.
“Hearing about what Ruth has accomplished at such a young age was inspiring to me, and I wanted to do everything in my power to help her get to UNM,” Jimerson said. “I have had the privilege of getting to know Ruth via email and have seen firsthand her level of maturity and dedication. I am sure that Ruth will go on to great achievements in her research at UNM.”
After recovering from jetlag, she got back to work. Though she hasn’t yet tried the local cuisine — red and green chiles — she’s enjoying the mountains, as well as the occasional rain that Albuquerque gets.
She admits that she works almost constantly and doesn’t have much of a social life, but she needs seven hours of sleep to function at a consistently high level. And at least she’s acquired a pastime, one that she’ll be able to put to good use in beautiful New Mexico.
“I love taking pictures,” she said. “it makes me happy.”
Gyan-Darkwa said she’s still learning the city, hoping to see some local sights during her upcoming vacation, meet some more people and maybe even get her driver’s license so she can use Uber every now and then. Can search without taking. somewhere.