In Ghana native Lilian Tetteh’s mind, there was no question that she wanted to earn a graduate degree in America to experience a multicultural environment and gain a broader perspective.
“My dream has always been to become an education administrator,” she said. “I knew what I wanted, so I researched schools. I read about the courses at Youngstown State University (YSU), and I realized I could enhance my reflective and analytical skills in leadership there.”
Tetteh achieved her goal by graduating from the online Master of Science in Educational Administration program at YSU with a 4.0 GPA in May 2021, but getting to Ohio wasn’t easy.
“I was faced with the challenge of funding,” she said. “I contacted the program director, Dr. Chuck Vergon. I was surprised at how he believed in my dreams and passion.
“He was instrumental in assisting me to secure a scholarship with the Center for Human Services Development at YSU. He also encouraged me with my very frustrating immigration documentation. He was my angel. He made my dreams possible.”
Tetteh started in the on-campus master’s degree program before COVID-19 necessitated a switch to online. She also worked as a YSU graduate assistant while completing the degree.
“I had never taken an online course, so I was nervous at first,” she said. “The faculty and staff were very helpful. I will forever remain highly indebted to them. They helped me navigate everything.
“It was an interesting experience coming to the United States. I didn’t enjoy the cold weather at the beginning, but I enjoy living here.”
Out of Africa
Tetteh was influenced to pursue a career in education by her parents, Michael and Patience, who were both teachers when she was growing up in Accra, Ghana.
“The passion and love of education my parents had made me appreciate the relevance of education at a tender age,” she said. “As a young girl, I saw some of my colleagues drop out of school.
“I used to ask my dad a lot of questions about the disparity of levels of education and intelligence levels and wealth distribution in our society. He said that promoting education was key to reaching the levels of equality as a society. At a very young age, that led me to go into education.”
While Tetteh was earning her bachelor’s degree in business management from the University of Cape Coast, her father passed away. After graduating in 2017, she was an administrator for a non-governmental organization that advocated for human rights.
“I would like to investigate if leaders in Ghanaian universities promote the education of first-generation students,” she said. “My long-term vision is to come up with scholarships for students in Ghana. I am hoping to become a lecturer and undertake research, which I love.”
The coursework in the M.S.Ed. in Educational Administration program provided Tetteh with the knowledge she believes will help her achieve those long-term goals.
“I gained a lot of insights in all of the courses I took,” she said. “The content shaped my knowledge and understanding of leadership, education and life as a whole.
“Coming from a different background, I was exposed to different perspectives compared to the system in my home country, and I see what can be done in all of the areas of study relative to it.”
Tetteh is grateful for the opportunity to become the first person in her immediate family to earn a master’s degree. She walked the graduation stage at the commencement ceremony to celebrate her major accomplishment.
“It was the most fulfilling moment of my life,” she said. “I felt very supported by my adviser and other professors here at YSU. It is a home away from home for international students who are seeking to study in the U.S. Individual-centered care is a priority of the faculty and staff, and they are ever-willing to guide students in their academic pursuits.”
In reflecting on her YSU experience, Tetteh noted that the Beeghly College of Education offers a world-class education to those who wish to make a positive impact in the field. She credits her family for giving her ample support while she earned a degree online.
“I received a lot of encouragement from my mother, my sister, Rebecca, and my younger brother, Nicholas, who sacrificed a lot for me. I couldn’t have excelled in my educational pursuit without their love, care and unflinching support.”
During Tetteh’s two years in Youngstown, she taught online Sunday School classes on Saturdays because of the pandemic while adjusting to life in a different country.
Her time in Ohio may be coming to an end, but her higher education journey in the United States is still unfolding. She will begin a doctoral program in educational psychology with an emphasis in educational policy in the fall of 2021. She remains keen on adding to the educational legacy of her parents so that she can make a difference in the world.
“My family and friends are excited,” she said. “The master’s degree will very much open up opportunities for me. It was a great experience.”
Learn more about YSU’s online M.S.Ed. in Educational Administration program.