31.05.2015 Diaspora (USA)

Ghanaian Student Delivers Commencement Address at Carnegie Mellon University

By Appiah Adomako
Ghanaian Student Delivers Commencement Address at Carnegie Mellon University
LISTEN MAY 31, 2015

Pittsburgh, PA, A Ghanaian master’s student at the Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Mr. Michael Kwame Benison over the weekend gave an electrifying speech before a huge crowd at the Carnegie Mellon University’s Commencement Ceremony as the Student Commencement Speaker in the US state of Pennsylvania.

Mr. Michael Benison (aka Michael Power), a Master of Science in Public Policy and Management (MSPPM) final year student from the Heinz College of Public Policy and Management won the support from the graduating class of 2015 to be the much coveted Commencement Student Speaker.

Mr. Michael Benison holds BSc Physics from the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST, 2008) and was one time local National Union of Ghana Students (NUGS) secretary and National Coordinator for Leaders of Tomorrow Foundation.

As part of the university’s tradition, graduating students are allowed to vote for one student to be their student speaker during the commencement (graduation event). At this year’s commencement, a total of 15 students put up their names and the video of their speeches for voting and Michael Benison emerged as the winner.

Speaking before an over packed Patterson Event Centre where the 2015 Commencement Ceremony took place, Michael shared his story from how he got to the prestigious Carnegie Mellon University from his hometown Kikam in the Western Region of Ghana.

He said he was born and raised in a village in Ghana without electricity or potable water; life was an obvious struggle. But like every child, he had lofty dreams. Dreams that could not be buried by walking barefoot to school; dreams that could not be washed away by the absence of his parents at a tender age; dreams that could not be submerged in the ocean of hunger.

He added that one thing kept him strong – the words of his grandmother who often told him : “Michael you are our hope, make us proud!” He remembered that “after graduating from junior high school, my grandmother passed, but her words became alive in me. I moved to the capital city, Accra, to fend for myself. The journey was painful, but I kept moving. In the words of Albert Einstein “life is like a bicycle -- to keep your balance -- you must keep moving.” I moved – and, I am happy to be here - today - with all of you.

About Carnegie Mellon University
Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) is a global research university with more than 13,285 students, 98,000 alumni, and 5,000 faculty and staff. CMU has been a birthplace of innovation since its founding in 1900.

Today, the university is a global leader bringing groundbreaking ideas to market and creating successful startup businesses.

The award-winning faculty members are renowned for working closely with students to solve major scientific, technological and societal challenges. We put a strong emphasis on creating things—from art to robots. The students are recruited by some of the world’s most innovative companies.

CMU holds an envious place in global ranking. In a 2010 Wall Street Journal poll , job recruiters looking for new hires ranked CMU No. 1 in computer science, No. 4 in finance and No. 7 in business. CMU ranked 10 overall. CMU is one of the only 25 universities in the world, 11 in the U.S., invited to join the World Economic Forum's Global University Leaders Forum. Business members of the Forum include the world's top 1,000 companies who drive the economy forward, and who collaborate on shaping global, regional and industry agendas.

CMU is a world leader in robotics. Software that guides NASA’s Mars rovers and crash avoidance systems in Cadillacs began at CMU. Now, CMU scientists are developing technology to assist the elderly with household chores, respond to natural or man-made disasters and land a robot on the moon in 2015.

The university has campuses in Pittsburgh, Qatar and Silicon Valley, and degree-granting programs around the world, including Africa, Asia, Australia, Europe and Latin America.

2015 Commencement Ceremony
Carnegie Mellon University conferred more than 3,000 bachelor's, master's and doctoral degrees over the weekend. That figure includes the largest graduating class from the Carnegie Mellon University in Qatar campus: One hundred and four graduates representing 19 countries including Ghana.

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