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TA Spotlight: Paying it Forward

Photo of teaching assistant Yawo Kobara

Growing up in Ghana, Yawo had very little exposure to the world outside of his community, but always followed his grandmother’s advice — "Learn from everyone — the bad and the good — but only practice the good." Having learned to read for the first time at 75, she served as an ongoing inspiration to Yawo. As a WQU student, he followed this advice and continues to instill these same values to shape an engaging and supportive online learning environment as a TA.

Originally from Accra, Yawo spent time in nearly half of the sixteen West African countries before his move to Toronto, Canada, where he now lives. Yawo says that the key to structural transformation for the world’s least developed countries is increasing accessibility to STEM education and for students to develop qualities of commitment and resilience. He points to online education providers like WQU as the key to empowering more people with the skill sets that can accelerate development and promote economic success in his home country and elsewhere. Commitment and resilience are critical to developing the aforementioned skill sets.

“I am passionate about STEM education,” he says. “STEM education focuses on solving real-world problems with math and science. WorldQuant University takes that a step further. We think critically and collaborate with people from other cultures. You learn to think flexibly and learn from other people’s perspective.”

Although Yawo already held a Master of Science degree in Mathematical Science, he wanted a more specialized degree. The most significant obstacle he faced, however, was cost. He was surprised to find WorldQuant University’s MSc in Financial Engineering degree program was not only online, but also free. “Other organizations simply don’t offer free, online, and collaborative programs that also result in a degree.”

Yawo took many things from his time in WQU’s MScFe program. He learned programming skills like C# as well as the foundation of building interactive web applications with R Shiny.

He also gained a robust professional network, with new peer connections all over the world. “Our network provides job opportunities and the chance to continue learning from each other,” he says. As a TA, Yawo incorporates Ghanian values — such as solidarity — to develop a sense of community. “We work on problems together and help support each other.”

Yawo credits his classroom experience with helping him feel more prepared for a career in any field. And for right now, Yawo is thrilled to be giving back and teaching the next generation of empowered professionals.

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