Meet Joshua Okyere, 2021 Pierre Elliot Trudeau Foundation Scholar
Joshua Okyere, a 2018 graduate of the African Studies Program and current PhD student in Peace and Conflict Studies at the University of Manitoba, Canada was recently selected as a 2021 Pierre Elliott Trudeau Foundation’s leadership program scholar. Joshua is among fifteen leading doctoral researchers selected from 643 applicants after going through a rigorous selection process of group and individual interviews. We had a chat with Joshua about the fellowship.
So, what will you be doing during the fellowship?
I will embark on a three-year leadership journey with the Pierre Elliott Trudeau Foundation’s Institutes of Engaged Leadership, which is centered on the leadership curriculum, "Building Brave Spaces: The Path to Engaged Leadership." The Foundations Fellows and Mentors will direct and equip me with the needed skills to translate my research into action. I will study French as an official language while familiarizing myself with the Indigenous languages of Canada. Additionally, I will actively volunteer in various communities to become an engaged leader and a public intellectual. I will travel for conferences and research.
How did the African Studies Program prepare you for Ph.D. and the fellowship?
The African Studies program helped enhance my understanding of the complex and changing contemporary theories, concepts, instruments, principles, and the use of various methodological approaches to research and relevant ethical problems. With that aside, I gained sophisticated insights into different fields due to its interdisciplinarity, which undoubtedly provided me with in-depth knowledge necessary for embracing the world's emerging challenges. It instilled in me the confidence to voice the voiceless and contribute immensely to the community through engagement while analyzing African social and cultural issues.
Do you have any advice for current African Studies and CIS students?
My advice is that nothing is impossible if you so desire to take a step. I admonish all to believe in God and themselves and should not allow anyone to belittle them, but they should be examples and keep brightening every corner they find themselves. If I had listened to naysayers who said I was unfit for a Ph.D., I would not have come this far. Always take a step of faith coupled with hard work, and indeed one day, your star will shine.
What, if anything at all, do you miss about Ohio University and or Athens?
The conducive and serene environment which supports learning. I miss the supportive staff of the university especially the amazing people at the Centre for International Studies. In Athens, I miss the sandwich I used to get from Wendys on Court Street popularly known as $4 for 4 😊.
What are your plans after the fellowship and after your PhD?
Still planning… I hope to come out as a seasoned graduate and leader ready to impact lives and contribute to public policy.
Do you have any final words?
I would like to specifically thank Dr. Steve Howard, Dr. Assan Sarr and Dr. Kingsley Antwi-Boasiako through whom I got the privilege to pursue my masters. Again, my heartiest thanks go to Professor Ghirmai Negash, Dr. Edna Wangui and Dr. Emmanuel Jean-Francois who inspired me to pursue PhD irrespective of the odds against me. I am forever grateful to them for believing in me and encouraging me not to give up. Lastly, I am grateful to my then Assistant Director, Bose Maposa for her unflinching support in all angles that sailed me through successfully. Thank you to everyone at CIS who impacted my life.