When civil unrest in the African country of Togo led to Nancy Adossi and her family being forcibly removed from their home by gunpoint, she had no idea that would be the catalyst that would send her to find academic success in America.
“Rebels forced their way into our house and demanded us, at the point of guns and rifles, to leave the house immediately,” she recalls. “We gathered what we could and walked to the Ghanaian border. Along the way, we saw many of our neighbors lying dead on the streets. So, both of my parents made every effort to relocate the entire family to America. “
In 1998, at the age of 9, Adossi and her family left one challenging environment only to find a new set of obstacles in the United States, where Adossi struggled to assimilate and learn English.
“I didn’t speak any English at all when I first came to America,” she says. “This and the fact that I was put back in fourth grade made the transition a little hard for me. Nevertheless, knowing that I was put back made me work even harder at learning English.”
Adossi’s hard work paid off, and she eventually mastered English. That accomplishment led to a successful academic career highlighted by her recent graduation from the University of Houston Downtown with summa cum laude honors. Adossi received those honors in large part due to her successful research project on the re-election of Paul Kagame, the president of Rwanda.
“I was proud to show to other students of other majors that political science uses a particular analysis of factors, such as economics and politics, to predict upcoming shifts in governmental control and outcomes.”
While she is still weighing her options for graduate school, Adossi remains focused on, one day, becoming the first female secretary-general of the United Nations.
“I just think it is about time women stop being the power behind successful male politicians and become the successful politicians. In other words, it’s time women show the world we can be politicians and still maintain our composure,” she says.
Adossi hopes that her story of overcoming the language barrier and taking full advantage of the educational opportunities in America inspires others to not waste their talents.
“You’re here for a reason, so don’t waste this opportunity. Study hard and do more than your best. Learn how to communicate in English,” she said specifically to students and graduates who are immigrants. “This is the greatest nation on earth. There are so many opportunities here that you will never get in your country. Lastly, make America and your country proud.”