I had the opportunity to interview a young and vibrant lady who is re-defining the phase of STEM in Ghana. The will to win, the desire to succeed, the urge to reach your full potential… these are the keys that will unlock the door to personal excellence. ~ Confucius.
Miss Lois Afua Okyerewaa Damptey has recently completed a collaborative Masters of philosophy program with the Department of Materials Science and Engineering UG-Legon and Aston University, Birmingham, UK.
She had her undergraduate studies with the University of Ghana- Legon in the aforementioned department. She was awarded the Royal society Leverhulme African award to work on a suitable catalyst to convert Ghanaian and Tanzanian non-edible seed oils to biofuels. Lois is a Robert Bosch Stiftung award winner for Young African Researchers, France. She is also an SCI Material Science Early Career Award winner in Belgrave Square, London.
Lois just recently won an academic award of excellence to support student education in the field of materials characterization from International Centre for Diffraction Data, USA. She also won the top poster prize at the recently ended Pan African Conference on Crystallography from Royal Society of Chemistry (CrystEngComm) which is currently receiving a lot of media attention.
Lois currently has two academic publications, she is also an author and publisher of two short story books for Junior High Schools named “The Dawn” and “Morning Dew”. She is currently serving as Vice President of the African Materials Research Society- UG chapter with the aim of bridging the gap between industries and student research as well as embarking on community outreaches to increase awareness of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) especially among girls. She is also serving as a Secretary of Vacation Initiatives in Science, Africa with the aim of teaching science in fun ways. Lois has a strong passion for theatre arts (dance and drama) as well.
Lois attended Providence School Limited for her basic school education and moved on to Labone Senior High School, where she studied science as a course.
Q. Do you come from an academic family?
A. My parents haven’t been to the university, however, they both run secretariat startups. Extended-wise, many have been to the university, but no one really dove deeper into the depths of academia.
Q. How does your family regard your academic choice?
A. Initially, it was very difficult considering my parents’ academic background and you know this academic path could be long before you see some money coming in, besides, we are growing, things become tougher by the minute with the responsibility of having to support the home. Honestly, it took a lot of convincing for them to accept my choice and pursue my dream. I have to commend them for their patience and support because honestly, there have been many times when they tried to push me to go in for a job, but then again reassured me in the daring moments to still pursue my dream.
Q. Besides your scientific interests, what are your personal interests?
A. It will interest you to know that I am actually noted for drama and choreography than I am for science. I am really passionate about art, drama, choreography and the likes.
Q. Is it difficult to manage both engineering and private life? How do you manage both?
A. I wouldn’t say it is. I feel if you set your mind to what you want to do, you can always find a balance between the two. There were times that it was quite hard because for instance you may have an interim assessment / an exam and you also need to go for rehearsals as well. So what I usually did was if I apportioned 2 hours of rehearsals, I will definitely have to pay that time depth in learning.
Q. If you had the opportunity to give advice to a younger version of yourself, what would that be?
A. I will say, Lois, you can do anything you set your mind to do. Just go for it. You can listen to people’s opinions, but don’t let it bring you down. JUST GO FOR IT.
Career and Academic Life
Q. Did you have a role model that influenced your decision to work in science?
A. I never had a role model to look up to, I am naturally self-motivated and I am able to push myself to do anything I set out to do. Irrespective of this, in level 400 I had the chance to work with Dr. Dodoo (a senior lecturer in the department of materials science and engineering – university of Ghana) and he actually motivated a lot during our time together. At the time, I started looking up to him because of his enthusiasm and hard work irrespective of how he was presumed to be “a big man” by many.
Q. Why did you choose to become an engineer?
A. I didn’t really choose to become an engineer. It’s rather interesting because I had always wanted to be a banker because I thought bankers had a lot of money. I was very bad at biology so I decided to branch into a field related to Physics and Chemistry.
Q. Which project are you working on currently? Why did you choose this project and how do you think you will make a difference?
A. I am the director of a mentorship hub known at Sankofa mentorship hub. Its aim is to use fun activities, mentorship, practical workshop and seminars to curb the phobia of science amongst school children at lower levels. This will grow in them the desire and psych them up to pursue science at a younger age.
Q. What are your biggest achievements?
A. I don’t think I have reached my biggest achievement yet.
Q.What are your biggest failures?
A. I really hate to fail, so I don’t even play games anymore but I am working on it and so now I accept my failures and I move on yeah!
Q. What is a typical day for Lois?
A. I am not often at home. I am always at a meeting or rehearsing normally on weekends. I just sleep when I happen to be home.
Q. Did you ever doubt your abilities as an engineer? Why and how did you handle the situation?
A. I never doubted myself as an engineer. I am always ready to learn from my mistakes.
You can contact Lois on
Facebook: Lois Afua Okyerewaa Damptey
Linked in: Lois Afua Okyerewaa Damptey