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Saturday, April 20, 2024

Young African man grows from being poor to winning $150,000 prize in US, earns honorary doctorate

A young African man named Shadrack Frimpong has been awarded an Honorary doctorate from Royal Holloway, University of London, and won the United States President’s $150,000 prize after going through a very poor upbringing as a child in Africa.

Shadrack Frimpong is a Ghanaian man who is currently a Ph.D. student in Public Health and Primary Care, at the University of Cambridge, and a beneficiary of the Cambridge Gates Scholarship. He was awarded the Honorary Doctorate from Royal Holloway, University of London based on his work as a social entrepreneur.

Frimpong is the founder and CEO of Cocoa360, an organization that transforms lives, particularly farming communities together with funding health programs in Ghana.

The Royal Holloway University Management said they awarded him because of how he is using his organization to facilitate communities to develop, enable subsidized healthcare and provide free education to young women which serves as an inspiration to their students.

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Frimpong said he had a rough path growing up with a very poor family but he defied numerous odds to succeed. He mentioned that he was born a peasant farmer and charcoal seller in the cocoa-farming village of Tarkwa n Ghana’s Western Region.

He was able to enroll in High school with the help of a Ghana Cocoa Board scholarship. He earned his high school diploma at Opoku Ware School in Kumasi, Ghana before proceeding to the University of Pennsylvania, United States where he bagged a bachelor’s degree.

He bagged his bachelor’s degree in Biology from the University of Pennsylvania as a flagbearer, university scholar, and the first-ever Black student to be awarded the prestigious $150,000 President’s Prize.

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While in the university, Frimpong founded the Tarkwa Breman Community Alliance (now Cocoa360), which began with running a school for girls and building community hospital back in his village funded by proceeds from his cocoa plantation in the village.

He also found the Students for a Healthy Africa, offering free health insurance for HIV/AIDS orphans in Ghana and running a health clinic and water well in two communities in Nigeria. He further founded the African Research Academies for Women, a fellowship that bridges the gap between male and female scientists in Africa through yearly summer research internships.

He moved on to obtain his master’s degree in Global Public Heath from Yale University, United States. Frimpong said he was inspired to pursue a medical career after suffering a life-threatening infection as a young boy in his village which almost cost him his both legs because of the poor treatment.

During his time at Yale University, he was appointed as the editor of the Yale Journal of Health Policy, Law and Ethics at the university. Ever since then, His work has been recognized by the United States’s White House, Ghana’s Flagstaff House, and former United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan.

Frimpong has also been given the opportunity to dine with the world’s most powerful people, including the former United States President, President Bill Clinton. In 2017, he won the Future Award in the 2017 Ghana Legacy Honors for his involvement in community health and education for poor children in his village.

He has won several global notable awards which includes the prestigious Samuel Huntington Public Service Award, Forbes 30 under 30 list of top social entrepreneurs around the world, the Clinton Foundation’s CGIU Honor Roll, and the Muhammad Ali Award, which recognizes global activists.

Queen Elizabeth II also awarded him the Queen’s Young Leader Award at Buckingham Palace. Frimpong stated that his parents are his biggest inspiration because, adding that in spite of their abject poverty, they worked hard to provide him and his sibling with the opportunities they never had.

Frimpong stated that his greatest wish is to see Africa become a place where health equity, with a particular focus on rural medicine, and gender equality in accessing education is a basic human right and not a privilege. 

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