ASU liberal studies graduate Kwame Boahene

Full-time work doesn't deter ASU graduate's dreams


Maureen Roen

Editor’s note: This is part of a series of profiles for fall 2016 commencement. See more graduates here.

Kwame Boahene, an outstanding graduating senior in liberal studies in Arizona State University's College of Integrative Sciences and Arts, said the flexibility he found at ASU to complete many courses online drew him to the university.

“I work full-time, 40-60 hours a week as a support engineer in a local software company in Mesa, so the ability to complete classes remotely was key,” he said.

Boahene, whose hometown is Syracuse, New York, started out as an information technology major in the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering, expecting to focus in on computing and programming.

“While I enjoyed the 'Introduction to Engineering' course and got an 'A,' I quickly realized that my interests were actually much broader and it occurred to me to switch to liberal studies,” Boahene said. “The liberal studies major basically allowed me to take any upper-division courses I had interest in to complete my degree requirements.” 

The outstanding grades continued. He was recently inducted into Alpha Iota Sigma, the interdisciplinary studies national honor society, which requires maintaining a GPA above 3.8.

The liberal studies major appeals to many adult students who come to ASU with some life experience, some prior college credits, or both, said Brian McCormack, principal lecturer in leadership and interdisciplinary studies.

“Liberal studies students are really an amazing crowd!” McCormack continued. “In every lib studies class I teach there are usually at least half-a-dozen students who should already be in grad school!"

McCormack definitely puts Boahene, who took two core courses from him, in that group:

“Kwame was consistently amazing in all of his work. He was always generous in discussions, and he brought a wealth of experience and interesting ideas to everything he did.”

Boahene answered some additional questions about his experience at ASU and goals for the future. 

Question: What are your plans after graduation?

Answer: I plan to continue in my current job and start ASU's Master of Social Work online in January 2017. My real interests lie in community improvement; I hope to create opportunities for disadvantaged members of society and would like to start a non-profit charity in the next 10 years.

Q: What’s something you learned while studying at ASU that surprised you, that changed your perspective?

A: The history courses that I took really taught me things about the U.S. that I never knew. I realized that pretty much every ethnic group has had a very pronounced struggle in order to carve out their piece of the American Dream. I never understood how most of our immigrants were truly exploited until they amassed enough numbers on American soil to have their own communities and gain an economic base and some political clout.  

Q: If someone gave you $40 million to solve one problem on our planet, what would you tackle?

A: I would invest in energy and clean water solutions for developing countries that don't yet have these resources for all of their citizens. This basic step would greatly expand the opportunity available in these environments. I would also invest some of the money in creating a training institute to teach the construction trades in developing nations. 

Q: Did you have any favorite campus spots for studying or relaxing?

A: My two favorite spots where I do all my studying are on the first floor of Noble Library when it is sparsely populated, or level 1 of Hayden Library, because it has the most comfortable leather chairs.

Q: Anything else you’d like to share?

A: Overall, I really enjoyed my time here. I think ASU is a great environment which encourages personal growth in students and has something for everybody. ASU is great because it offers more resources than any other university in terms of tutoring and receiving help, but the sheer size of the school encourages you to become academically self-sufficient and grow into a more confident, capable student and person in your time here. You can easily obtain all of the help you need here, but it is likely that you will outgrow the need to constantly use the available resources as you progress.