From West Africa to A&M-San Antonio

From West Africa to A&M-San Antonio

By: Mariah Gonzalez

Esther Amponsaa first arrived in the United States at the John F. Kennedy airport in New York City in 2018 armed with ambition and a student visa to pursue higher education. 

Originally from Osiem, a small rural town in the Eastern Region of Ghana, in West Africa, Amponsaa’s journey to the U.S. wasn’t just a trek across borders, it was a plunge into the unknown. She experienced a jolt of culture shock when she landed in bustling New York City. 

“In Ghana there are only two seasons, rainy and dry, and the temperature never goes below 60 degrees,” she said. “The four seasons have been a new experience.”  

As she settled into her new surroundings, Amponsaa was determined to pursue an education. She wanted to be the first in her family to graduate from a university and set an example for her siblings—to show them a brighter future was possible.  

“In my culture, a student is expected to excel academically,” she said.  

Amponsaa first lived in New York because her aunt and uncle resided there at the time. While in the Big Apple, she earned a bachelor’s degree in computer information systems at Medgar Evers College in Brooklyn.  When her aunt and uncle moved to Texas, Amponsaa followed and this spring started attending A&M-San Antonio, where she’s pursuing a master’s degree in computer science.

Amponsaa tutoring a peer.

“It was love at first sight,” Amponsaa said about first arriving at the University. “I was wowed by the serenity of the campus and the availability of spaces to engage in personal studies.”  

In addition to taking classes, Amponsaa is also working part-time as a math tutor at the Academic Learning Center.   

“Esther has been a fantastic addition to the team. Not only is she an exemplary model of student success, but her patience and adaptability make her a fantastic tutor. We are so grateful to have her assisting our students,” said Mercedes Torrez, assistant director of the Academic Learning Center. 

While Amponsaa enjoys living in Alamo City and is making the most of her time at the University, she said homesickness creeps in from time to time. She’s staying with relatives and has a cousin who also attends A&M-San Antonio, which make it easer, and video calls help her remain connected to family back in Ghana. She also likes to prepare Ghanaian food and dance to Ghanaian music.   

While it wasn’t easy for Amponsaa to leave her family, she credits her parents for helping her stay focused on her studies. She said their support has given her strength. Scheduled to graduate next year, she said she’s excited about the future and the opportunity to use the skills she’s acquiring at A&M-San Antonio to make a real difference.   

“Ghana is not really advanced in technology, so I would like to use my skills and give back to my country.” 

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