If there is one quote I have loved with time, it’s that from the American rapper, songwriter, model, and actress Lil’ Kim who said, “I am blessed to have so many great things in my life – family, friends, and God. All will be in my thoughts daily.”
Today, I also say I am blessed to have UPSA in my thoughts daily. My ties to the University of Professional Studies, Accra (UPSA) commenced a few years ago when I was humbly welcomed into its Communication Department of as a lecturer. This year, the institution celebrates its fifty-five years in existence and when I tell people about this, the question they usually ask is “really? When did UPSA come?” What most people knew then was IPS and not UPSA. Anyway, whether IPS or UPSA, kindly permit me to share with you three beautiful special lessons that EVERYBODY can take from UPSA’s amazing fifty-five years journey.
It is true that there was a time in history when UPSA was not in the vocabulary of most people but years down the lane, UPSA has changed in meaning and significance. Attending UPSA is the easiest decision for a lot of people as the list of reasons to choose it is long and exhaustive. So how did this happen? Once upon a time in the history of the institution, the people told themselves, let’s grow this institution and that brings me to my very first lesson: THINGS GROW. Yes things grow! With my relatively young working experience in UPSA, it is exciting to see how UPSA grows each year with its beautiful campus buildings, committed and well-informed faculty members, large student body, relevant programs and rigorous academic curriculum and more importantly, its across-the-board reputation. This is the story of UPSA and the lesson here is applicable to everyone and in every facet of our lives and society. I don’t know where you find yourself but one thing which is certain is that moments redefine people, but more essentially people have an effect on what they wish to achieve out of specific moments. In that IPS moment, UPSA chose to grow, so you can also grow.
A senior colleague once told me that although we can rewrite our own stories making it seem like we are heroes, our true heroic status is awarded to us by the people whose lives we have influenced. I don’t know how many people tag you as their hero but my second lesson in UPSA’s fifty-five years journey is BE A HERO TO SOMEBODY. In my few years with UPSA, I have seen senior colleagues making many wonderful and meaningful connections with their young students through mentoring, sharing life lessons and experiences, and allowing students the space to grab the full benefits that campus has to offer. Through such acts, I have also had the privilege to make so many long-lasting friendships with some students. I have watched these students live out the UPSA motto Scholarship with Professionalism and becoming responsible people in society. To these students, we are their HEROES and so they walk about propagating our story and recommending others to us. My question to you is, who have you been there for especially in the most challenging moments? Are you a Hero to someone? If your answer is a No, then be a hero to someone and that will make you Grow like UPSA.
Without a doubt, UPSA has grown and can be likened to a pool of many opportunities open for all to swim in. Within the fifty-five years journey of UPSA, many young lives have been touched including students and lecturers. I have witnessed in other institutions and places where views were discarded not because they do not make sense but because the holders of the view were seen as small boys or small girls.
Again, I have seen in other places where young people are denied leadership roles because of how old they were. When I first stepped foot on the grounds of UPSA and I saw very young lecturers, senior lecturers, Deans, HODs, Registrars, and Administrators going about their duty diligently, I told myself ‘this is the place where young people are cherished.’ And this is where my third lesson comes in: THE YOUNG CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE. I have always believed in the powers of young people and the story of UPSA has given me more reason to hold on to my belief. Sadly, there are a lot of young people walking and idling about. If only we as a country can tap into just 50% of their potential, I believe Ghana can Grow like UPSA.
It has been a great fifty-five incredible years with special lessons for everyone to take home from UPSA’s story. For those who have followed the story, it is comforting to realize that though the transformation from IPS to UPSA has been slow, the end has been beautiful. Happy Anniversary to UPSA.