Mr. Robert Saforo is currently a Teaching Assistant at the Department of Mathematics and Statistics. He is the immediate past President of the Ghana Association of Statistics Students (GASS-UCC). He gained admission into UCC after completing an HND at the Kumasi Polytechnic. Mr. Robert graduated with a First Class Honour in Statistics with a CGPA of 3.83. He is hardworking, intelligent and religious.
This interview was conducted by Appiah Francis (Bomaye) and Millicent Audrey Boahen: Committee members of the Mathematics Students Association of Ghana (MASAG) and copied to choicism.com.
CHOICISM: Can you please tell us something about yourself and your family
SAFORO: My name is Robert Mensah Saforo. I hailed from Akwapim in the Eastern Region but I have spent my life in Accra and Kumasi. At a point in time I was in Nsawam.We are family of five. I am the first son of my parents. Currently, I am with my mum in Kumasi. I lost my dad 3 years ago
CHOICISM : Something little about your educational background i.e. from the basic through secondary to tertiary(UCC)
SAFORO: I started my basic school education at Nana Osei -Gyan experimental school in Nsawam and I proceeded to St. Martins Senior High and later furthered my education at Kumasi polytechnic and finally UCC.
CHOICISM: Growing up, how do you think your parents shaped you about the thinking of the world
SAFORO: My dad has been very inspirational to me as I grew up. There was one thing my dad normally told me that I still remember to date. He always tells me, “son, I don’t have money to pay bribe for you to get admission elsewhere, your performance will take you there”. Besides he was also a Reverend Minister and as a Reverend Minister, it is ungodly to pay bribes and this serves as a warning and a motivation to me. He always says “son, if you really want to further you education then you must put in much effort”. And that is the inspiration that has brought me this far.
CHOICISM: We learnt you were the president of Ghana Association of Statistics Students (GASS). Was there any achievement you did during your tenure that you are still proud of today?
SAFORO: The achievements were uncountable. Some of them were unprecedented in the history of GASS and the department as a whole. When we took office we learnt there has also been facile between MASAG and GASS. The executives of both associations were not united. We were able to come together as one body when we took office and we were able to achieve a lot. We were able to furnish our library for the first time, brought in some books, bought curtains and so many other things. We also realized that we didn’t have a conducive atmosphere for learning. We were always on the Head of Department to do something about it. With pressure and effort, we can say that LT 24 and 25 are epitome of our achievement. Student now learn an air-conditioned, well-furnished lecturer theater.
For GASS, we were able to construct a notice board for the department and for the first time in the history of GASS, we also printed out a Lacoste, a customized T-shirt for the association. We organized a fair ICT workshop. We also embarked on an educational trip for the very first time (Coca-Cola, statistical service).
One thing I’m always proud of doing is sensitization. You know at that our department we run Mathematics and Statistics related courses and few people have the interest to read Mathematics and Statistics courses at the Universities. It was always our wish to go SHS to educate and inform them about the program we study in UCC .We were able to do this in Holy Child Senior High School. We were able to set up sub-committees to help the executives in executing their duties. Among such committees were the research committee and an independent electoral commission to take care of elections within GASS.
CHOICISM: How did you combine your position as president of GASS and your academics
SAFORO: It all about time management. I don’t believe that when you spend 2 or 3 hours outside academics it will have much influence on you. The time management and the mindset had been the secret and as indicated earlier, I always remembered what my dad told me some time ago. It has been inspirational to me. I manage my time very well and I also have total concentration when studying. Unlike other people who specify the number of hours they use to study, I don’t learn that way. How I learn is I want to cover this topic before I stop. So, I will not stop until I’m through with the topic.
CHOICISM: What has been your biggest challenge as a student?
SAFORO: As a student the challenge will always be finances because there are certain books you wish to get and read but you still don’t have access to. Well, for me, personally I’m blessed and I cherish the little I have. I can’t remember the day I slept without eating. I also believe that since i didn’t have much, it also inspired me a lot because at times if you have everything at your disposal you will be reluctant to work hard. Again combining my position as a president of GASS and academics was also challenging. Sometimes you need to choose between attending lectures and attending programs concerning GASS.
I wish in the near future the lecturers should be strictly involved in any activity of the association so that the executives will deliver as expected.
CHOICISM: How is life after leaving UCC campus?
SAFORO: You see, it just like a burden taken off you. Now I sleep and wake up at any time. I don’t think about quizzes and exams though I still read and carry out other activities but the pressure of writing quizzes and exams is off so my mind is now free.
CHOICISM: Can you please tell us about your class of honor and your CGPA if you don’t mind?
SAFORO: OK, I had CGPA of 3.83. It wasn’t easy at all to get it. In all we give thanks to God. Sometimes it baffles my mind how was able to achieve those grades. I believe the good Lord is always behind me.
CHOICISM: What factors do you think attributed to your success as a student on UCC campus?
SAFORO: One thing I believe it had been the secret of my success is group studies or group discussions. I am somebody who shares and I can’t remember knowing something without sharing it with someone. In as much as we share, God gives us the energy and the ability to renew our strength. Unless I forget, group discussion is the best way to conquer everything on campus. Group discussion was one of our key points.
CHOICISM: Are TA’s exceptionally brilliant students?
SAFORO: To me I believe that is what it supposed to be. This is because, as a TA, you are supposed to impact knowledge to the students so if you don’t know what you are about, then you may mislead the students. But I believe that on the average the best students are selected.
CHOICISM: How do you see MASAG and do you have any recommendations for the association?
SAFORO: MASAG has been on top and will always be on top because the large number. I must confess that, when it comes to money MASAG has it and can decide to do anything for her members. We really challenged MASAG when we were in office. MAGAG is a great association. At times, people are even more aware of MASAG than rest of the association on campus .MASAG is really performing but I believe they can do better.
CHOICISM: What are your future plans in the academia?
SAFORO: Precisely, as I was growing up if you could have asked me this question two years ago.I would have tell you that I don’t know where I will end up but now, I have assessed myself and I have realized that I cannot be industrious, mine is to be in the academia. Being in the academia you can’t relax, there is the need to further your education so that you will be able to fit in the system. Now the system is such that, if you have a first degree you can only teach in the Senior High and my ambitions are far beyond that, therefore there is the need to step up and further my education. So, once we are alive and not dead I will go forward till I achieve the title of Professor.
CHOICISM: Would you like to further in UCC?
SAFORO: I wish I will have the opportunity to further my education abroad and even if it doesn’t come to pass, wherever I get the opportunity, I will brighten the corner where I will find myself. You know, down here, our educational system is so stressful, but now at our level we want a situation that we can educate and the same time work. In the foreign countries it’s possible but locally it is very difficult. Probably a scholarship will do and even if it doesn’t come, I will try my possible means to get up there.
CHOICISM: Would you like to be a lecturer?
SAFORO: Of course yes! You see, I have been able to assess myself and I have realized that I’m good at teaching.My dad was a teacher and I think the blood runs through me.
CHOICISM: Your advice to students especially Mathematics and Statistics students.
SAFORO: You see nothing great on this earth is achieve on silver platter. It takes assiduity and determination. You need to work hard and be determined and with that you will have it. So my advice to student is, you need to work hard and do your possible best. Everyone has a reason of being here: somebody wants to remain in the academia; somebody is here because he wants to take over a family business, somebody is also here for being here sake.
Before you can achieve your ambition you need to work extra hard because to achieve great things you need to work extra hard and God being on your side you will make it.
CHOICISM: Thank you very much Mr. Saforo
SAFORO: You are always welcome.