Dr Margaret Nkrumah, 1963
Dr Margaret Nkrumah was Principal of the SOS Hermann Gmeiner International College in Ghana (SOS-HGIC; 2008) and then Vice President of SOS Children's Villages International (worldwide, with headquarters in Austria in 2012)
She is presently Chairman of the Board of SOS Children's Villages, Ghana, and a member of the Boards of the African Leadership Academy (ALA) in Johannesburg, South Africa; the International Schools Association (ISA) Geneva; and the Committee to Teach About the UN (CTAUN), New York.
Margaret was a teacher and Assistant Headmistress of the Ghana International School (GIS) for over ten years, and with 7 years of experience in teaching in Zimbabwe before the SOS College was founded in Ghana in 1990. She began teaching there, and became the Head in 1992 until she retirement in 2008. It was a special school in the sense that it was created to educate children from SOS Children's Villages from across Africa, who had the academic potential for tertiary education, together with other bright students from the local community. It was also special because the school had a pan African philosophy (motto: Knowledge in the Service of Africa) as well as a focus on community service, quite apart from the Cambridge IGCSE and International Baccalaureate programmes we ran.
Margaret was able to visit the campus before the acceptances came and the students on campus were so friendly and helpful that she thought she would feel at home. Another factor was that it was a very small University in 1960 and coming from an all Girls' Secondary School (Penrhos College, Colwyn Bay), her mother also thought it would be a better experience for her. She explains how she discovered the luminaries of the English department who taught me, Professor Humphreys, Monica Jones, Fraser and Collins after she arrived, and how they motivated her throughout her course.
The advice she would give to any profession, not just hers, is that you must love what you do and do it with your whole heart. The best advice she can give is don't decide on a profession because it pays more or has status, but choose the subjects you are good at and like and let those lead you to your profession-you will be much happier and find greater fulfilment that way.
Apart from the actual teaching, Margaret loved the quality of life she had at University of Leicester. She lived at the then new College Hall and made lifelong friends there sje still has today. She remembers lazy days lying on the grass in front of the Percy Gee building (yes there were sunny days and mowed grass, now covered with no doubt very important buildings but that patch of grass was beloved of students and many a romance was started there), idly talking to passing students and Friday hops, dancing the twist and rock and roll. It was all a University should be mind-opening, challenging and fun, and if there were bad days, she tells us she doesn't remember them.
Margaret loved University of Leicester because it was both sheltering and liberating. She truly enjoyed her course and did well at them because she worked diligently, so she did not have to worry too much about exams. She stayed in College Hall all three years, never feeling the need to strike out on her own in a flat; she liked the sense of community and even the rules which forbade boys in your rooms! At the same time, her lecturers treated her and fellow students as competent adults of whom they expected much, and for her this combination worked well.