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Denise Diana Duncan (PhD) | Ghana | Push Through

Growing up, my initial career gravitation was towards news anchoring. It remained that way until I started my national service with a bank and then developed an interest in working in the banking industry. That dream was soon cut short as I experienced cognitive discomfort each time I had to go to work. After a year of national service, I therefore decided to switch jobs and became a marketing and public relations executive for a telecommunications solutions provider. After two years in that position, I decided to enroll in a masters programme in 2010 at the School of Communication Studies at the University of Ghana, Legon. While there, I discovered a new passion - teaching. However, I wondered how that new dream would play out since I had no experience in teaching practice. A light glowed on my path when my supervisor at the time, Prof. Nana Ansu Kyeremeh gave me the opportunity to be his graduate assistant after completing my masters program. This for me was the relevant training and exposure to teaching that I needed to transition into the field.

After my graduation, I started job hunting. For three months, I tried with no luck until Prof. Audrey Gadzekpo, I call her "my angel,” set up an appointment for me to meet the then President of Central University, Prof. Kwasi Yankah. These were her words to me: I have been asked to nominate someone I believe can do the job of a Public Relations Officer. I have submitted your name, now go and prove yourself. Thanks be to God, I went for 7, yes 7, interviews for this position. I proved myself creditably and started working with the University as a Public Relations Officer. After 3 three years in that role, I became uncomfortable and needed to fulfill my initial passion of teaching. Then, I went into full time teaching in 2016, after a year of engaging in adjunct teaching. This was made possible by the timely counsel of Dr. Messan Mawugbe, who was a former superior, Mr. Daniel Obuobi, a lecturer who also doubled as a father figure to me and Dr. Ransford Antwi, the then head of department for communication studies. Doses of encouragement and motivation from their camps got me back on track to pursue my teaching career.

What were the biggest initial hurdles and how did you overcome them?

My first hurdle was securing a job after my graduate assistantship programme was over. I would leave home for the School of Communications’ library and computer lab, hoping one of the lecturers will give me some tasks to do. This never happened until one day when I approached Prof. Audrey Gadzekpo to volunteer to assist her with any academic assignments she may have. She was so welcoming and gradually I started working with her on some research projects. Just 3 months after working with her, she recommended me for a job opening at Central University and asked me to go and prove myself in that position. This I did to the best of my ability.

The next hurdle was in the area of self and academic development. In this particular case, building myself professionally. What I did was to identify training seminars in relation to my area of expertise and attended them to learn from experienced practitioners. I also enrolled in a PHD program. I must say this is one of the difficult assignments I have taken up in my entire life. I almost gave up in my third year due to several factors. My sincere appreciation goes to the current Vice Chancellor of Central University, Prof. Bill Buenar Puplampu for his continuous interest in my academic development. He encouraged, motivated and held my hand throughout this 5-year journey. Without giving up, I pushed through and today, all that hardwork has paid off.

What books are you currently reading?

1. Margaret Thatcher and

2. Loving

What do you know today that you wish you would have known when you first got started?

1. Never to be afraid to take up assignments you think are bigger than you because it is through that, that we sometimes rediscover our strengths and test our supposed limits

2. Never be afraid to ask even if the answer is No.

What advice would you give to an upcoming youth or talents locally and internationally?

1. Be bold and believe in yourself.

2. Respect and honour your superiors. Never bad mouth your superior to anyone especially in the office environment.

3. Try your best to push through even when it seems the odds are against you. Even when you think you are at your wits end, that is your cue to push even harder.

4. Seek God, love people and treat everyone with respect.

5. Identify a mentor and learn under his or her tutelage.

6. Be civil to all, close to a few, closest to yourself, and intimate with God.

Finally, everyone’s journey is unique and different, learn from others who have taken a similar path but find what works for you. Thanks for reading.

Share your questions, comments and thoughts with me via:

Tel: +233 243 281 966

Instagram: Nissie_duncan

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