This is the final in a series of articles on the 2019 Mihaylo College commencement speakers. We wish all of them the best in their future and are privileged that they are a part of the Mihaylo story.
At age 17, Praise Dekpoh ’19 (economics) of Lomé, the capital of the West African Togolese Republic, traveled to the U.S. to attend Cal State Fullerton’s business college. In her home country, she had researched business schools in the U.S. and was inspired by her summer vacations to California and enrollment in American schools during her upbringing.
“My experience at Cal State Fullerton will be an unforgettable one,” she says. “Studying in the U.S. promotes the development of strong leadership skills. The education system in the U.S. is set in a way that we do not only network and build intellectual abilities but also develop a strong emotional intelligence and showcase our unique talents.”
Among the high points of Dekpoh’s time at Mihaylo College was the Intermediate Business Microeconomics course taught by Economics Lecturer Francis Mummery, which transformed her opinion of economics from a subject she disliked to her concentration.
After graduation, Dekpoh plans to return to her home country, potentially earn a master’s degree in coming years and eventually work to support the economic development of Togo, which has one of the world’s lowest per capita incomes, yet has great potential and is experiencing a transformation to a modern industrialized society.
“It is a beautiful country in which we take pleasure in living. I encourage the Cal State Fullerton community to visit someday and clear the cliché that the Western world has about African countries,” she says. “It is true that unlike the U.S., Togo is a developing country in terms of living conditions and infrastructures; but it is a country that we love and cherish through its culture, history and originality. We live fairly well, and the country is evidently not a forest with wild animals roaming around like the media usually portrays. We have relatively modern cities with beautiful hotels, restaurants, schools, universities, tourist attractions and awesome beaches.”
As a child, Dekpoh’s dream was to become president of her country, with the aim of eradicating poverty. Today, she hopes to use entrepreneurship – in part inspired by the business successes of her parents – to bring about meaningful positive change in the lives of West Africans.
“Motivated by my parents’ achievements, I look forward to creating partnerships with multinational and transnational companies around the world to practice in my community what they have done in theirs; however, with a pan-African vision,” she says. “This will not only be my modest contribution to the development of my country, but it will also create more employment for the Togolese youth and give more hope to the people. I am eager to take part in the African rebirth that the new, educated and ambitious generation is working hard to achieve.”
Mihaylo College wishes Dekpoh the best in her efforts. And we wouldn’t count out her childhood dream of being the president of her nation!