Hundreds of graduands are seated patiently inside the Great Hall of the University of Ghana as they wait for their names to be mentioned to shake hands with some faculty members and top dignitaries.
Soon, they will be moving their tassels from the right-hand to the left-hand side, signifying a step into another phase of their lives.
Also waiting with anxiety is Justice Surugu.
The journey to the top of the educational ladder did not come on a silver platter. Justice Issah Surugu Musah stands out as he bagged his doctorate degree in style. He worked his way to the top by becoming a driver’s mate, a cobbler and a scrap dealer.
He was compelled to drop out of school to find money to pay his fees. Justice says he is the first person in his family to gain admission to the University. He now works at the United Nations Climate Change Secretariat in Bonn, Germany. If hard work imprinted marks on people, Dr. Justice Surugu would have been disfigured by the marks of resilience.
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Justice Issah Surugu Musah is the third of ten children born to uneducated parents. Justice entered the University of Ghana in 2007 where he graduated with a First Class Honours from the University of Ghana Business School.
He continued at the Business School for his Master of Science in Sustainable Development degree. In 2014, he gained admission to pursue a PhD from the same institution.
It was not rosy for the man from Widana in the Upper East Region. Although he performed poorly in the Basic Education Certificate Examination in 1997, he was the best in his school. He gained admission to the Tempane Senior High School but could not enroll because his parents could not pay his fees.
He moved from his hometown in 1998 to repeat the then Junior Secondary School. He improved his performance in the 2000 Basic Education Certificate Examination and subsequently gained admission to the Ejisuman Senior High School but missed out on the opportunity because his parents once again could not afford to pay.
Justice was compelled to become a cobbler at Cinkase, a popular border city in Togo where he was able to raise enough money to start High School at the Bawku Senior High School in 2001. He passed his Senior Secondary School Certificate Examination but again had no money to pay fees at the university.
He was again forced to move to Ejisu where his brother drives an articulated truck. Between, 2004-2007 was compelled to work as a scrap dealer at the Suame Magazine, a trotro mate on the Ejisu-Kumasi-Kejetia route to raise money for his university education.
Justice has received numerous research grants in 2016. In 2017, he was awarded an 18-month fellowship with the FrankFurt School of Finance and Management. Few months before he graduated, he was awarded multiple research fellowships.
He now works at the United Nations Climate Change Secretariat in Bonn, Germany. Justice is a member of the American Society of Public Administration. He believes education should be made free from nursery to the tertiary level .
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