Posted May 12, 2013

Ph.D. grad grew up with Temple and the neighboring community

  • Yeboah

When Amy Oppong Yeboah walked on to Temple’s campus after graduating from high school in 2003, she wasn’t sure what to expect. A Bronx native, born to parents who immigrated to New York from Ghana, Yeboah knew she wanted to attend college away from home but her parents were concerned about sending her too far away.

“They came to the states as adults, so they didn’t know too much about the college system,” she said.  “My uncle studied podiatry at Temple Medical School and always talked about Philadelphia and how much he was enjoying Temple. So, when it came time to choose a school, Temple seemed like the best choice.”

Yeboah, who received her bachelor’s degree in sociology and master’s degrees in sociology and African American studies from Temple, will end her 10-year stint as an Owl when she receives her PhD in African American Studies this week.

“It’s been a long and interesting ride,” said Yeboah; a small woman known around campus for her infectious smile.

“I’ve been here for a long time,” she said, grinning and shaking her head in disbelief. “I’ve spent the last 10 years living somewhere between Spring Garden and Diamond streets. I came here when I was 18 and now I’m leaving at 28 — I guess you can say I grew up on Temple’s campus.”

Living in Philadelphia for a decade helped her grow both as a student and an academic.

“I’ve watched the children of this neighborhood grow up and enter a school system struggling with academic achievement, budget issues and leadership problems,” she said. “My concern was always focused on the students and how these formative education years might shape their lives.”

Her interest in issues related to gaps in educational access took her into local schools, community centers and the homes of her neighbors where she developed her thesis.  

“I found that students with a strong family structure and a sense of responsibility to themselves, their family and their community were the ones who did well in school,” she said.

Spiritual grounding was one of the elements she found to be useful.

“When bullying, peer pressure and violence come up, it’s important for children to have a sense of who they are and how they can shape and direct their lives and avoid becoming a statistic,” she said.  

As a graduate assistant she taught several graduate courses on race and African American history.

“I’m looking forward to what the next 10 years have in store, but I’m going to miss Temple,” she said. “Especially the first-year students — they always came in to class eager to learn and discuss subjects that are not always easy to address.”

She hopes to continue her academic research as a professor of history, sociology or African American studies.