Study abroad programs give students the opportunity to immerse themselves into new cultures, forge new connections and create new experiences. For Jasmine Nguyen, however, choosing to study in Ashesi had an added incentive. “As a senior, I want to reflect and explore different ways of having an impactful career after graduation - Ashesi is the perfect place for me to do so, as every student is curious and driven."

When Jasmine was 17, she won a full scholarship to study at Macalester College, Minnesota. Born and raised in a close-knit family in Vietnam, she was nonetheless excited to leave home. “My family was quite protective of me,” she says. “However, I was surrounded by people who not only looked like me, but also think exactly like me, so I wanted something different. Going to Macalester was my first time living and studying abroad, and it opened the door to many possibilities.”

One of those possibilities was the opportunity to study abroad. In her final year at Macalester, Jasmine selected to study in Ashesi, an institution she had grown to admire from a distance. “Inspired by Patrick Awuah’s story and his vision to transform Africa, I did research into Ashesi and fell in love,” she explained. “Ashesi’s strong focus on entrepreneurship resonates with my long-term aspiration to become a social entrepreneur. I also wanted to be immersed in a completely different culture like nothing I have had experienced before, as I don't want a semester off. Ashesi is a semester ON!- I am constantly learning new things and pushing myself beyond my limits. 

Here, Jasmine shares some of her experiences studying in Ashesi. 

My experience, so far, has been phenomenal! Ashesi feels like a second home to me. My roommates are loving - they took the time to take me to the local market to pick cloth for my first African-print dress. They’ve also been with me to share my many first experiences, such as, taking a trotro. I believe I am making life-long connections here at Ashesi. 

One of the highlights was participating in the Matriculation ceremony for the freshmen class, where I drank water from a calabash - an Ashesi tradition to welcome new students. I have also enjoyed trying local dishes everyday, from jollof to fufu and groundnut soup. 

My favorite class is Entrepreneurship. I love the hands-on experience of starting a business venture with my team of five. We are currently working on a project to transform the conventional ways of transporting heavy goods in urban markets. We work closely with Engineering students from Brown University and staff at Burro towards the goal of launching a viable product in the commercial market by Fall 2017. I am so blessed to receive tremendous support from my lecturers, Nepeti [Nicannor] and Sena [Agyepong], even beyond classroom and office hours. This experience gave me confidence and new perspective in my journey as an aspiring social entrepreneur. 

Outside the classroom, I am one of the student organizers of Speak! Club, whose mission is to hone Ashesi students' public speaking skills and empower them as leaders. I coordinate the meetings and mentor other members on public speaking skill. Outside Ashesi, I am an active member of Busy Speaker Toastmaster, Accra, also a public speaking club.

Jasmine is a senior at MacAlester College. After graduation she looks forward to starting up a social enterprise, a “business with a soul”. In her first year at Macalester, she won a grant from the David’s Project for Peace to set up an interactive learning center in Vietnam to provide technical training to high school students.