Agya Yaw Nsiah: How I won a UK scholarship
Agya was one of three lucky winners on Ghana's reality TV show 'The Challenge'. Today, he is at Robert Gordon university in Scotland studying for an Masters in International Business. We caught up with him to talk about politics, studies and future dreams...
Tell me about the competition – what made you want to do it?
'Well, I was pretty tired of the daily routine, and I wanted to find something that would help me maximise my potential and that would stretch my thinking abilities a bit so I just decided to go for it. Before the competition, I had just graduated with a degree in political science and had completed one year of political service. Now, I'm doing a Masters in International Business – it involves Human Rights and Public Administration and lots of other things. I study things like international treaties and how multinational corporations go about their work.'
Did you think you would win? What do you think made you stand out?
'That’s a difficult question – I think that believed in myself and my ideas and what I had in my mind. For ‘The Challenge’ the basic requirement is to be smart – everyone who takes part is smart – so the extent to which you believe in yourself is a determining factor. The other thing is resilience, as it’s a reality TV show and it’s fairly long. I didn’t mind though, in the end I became very used to being on camera all the time, and wasn’t really being conscious of it.'
Robert Gordon University, what are you studying? How is it going?
'It’s a very exciting place to be. Robert Gordon is a university that has been built on the idea of trying to bring the best out in you – they rarely say ‘no’ to something, they say ‘try and let’s see if it makes sense’. This means you allow your students to bring out what is in them. Another thing, diversity in Robert Gordon is very unique and I also noticed that the relationship between lecturers and students is one of maximum mutual respect – which I like. I have friends from everywhere: Nigeria, China, Khazakstan.... In my free time I’m a video game person and I’m also part of some societies where we all meet up and go out and have a drink or two.'
Are you finding the course challenging?
'As a business person I focus a lot on strategy – so learning how to develop the right strategy to make the company successful has been tough. Getting it right is really central to business success but there are so many things to think about: operations in different countries, how to maximise opportunities and potential, finances… finances are difficult, but it’s all been a great challenge!'
What do you miss the most from Ghana?
'Sunshine and my family! But I think that sometimes it’s good to miss people.'
What is your ‘secret dream’ in life, what would you most like to achieve?
'To become a lawyer and the President of Ghana! Haha! Oh, and to own a football club, so when I’m successful maybe I’ll buy Chelsea!'
What do you hope to move on to after you graduate?
'Work is key. I need to gain some experience first. I would like to start from home in Ghana, making my business work at home and then expand it to different countries.'
What is your best memory of the UK so far – the one you will tell your grandchildren about?
'Are you familiar with the ‘ice bucket challenge’? Well, that’s how I remember my first day in the UK. It was really, really exciting and also freezing! I look back at those first days now and see how far I have come, and I laugh about it.'