By Alyssa McFadden
While finishing her ice cream from Treetops, Andrea Seidu sits in her dorm room to begin one of her three lab reports that are due at the end of the week. Seidu is a sophomore studying biochemistry with hopes of becoming a cardio surgeon one day. “It’s not a fixed plan, but it is the dream,” she said.
Seidu is one of La Salle’s many international students who has adjusted to life in America while making friends, taking part in various activities around campus and keeping herself at the top of her class.
Seidu is from the northern region of Tamale, Ghana, where she and her older sister, Adija, were raised by her parents. Her childhood was filled with what others would expect: an obsession with High School Musical, a close knit group of friends and a home that she loved.
She attended an international boarding high school located in Accra, Ghana. There, she met students from around the world and continued to cultivate her love of the sciences. “I’ve wanted to be in the medical field since I was three years old, and so my whole life has been planning the steps to get me there,” she explained.
Her father, Dr. Andrew Seidu, was the first person to open Seidu’s eyes to the world of medicine. Dr. Seidu received his Ph.D. and worked as a medical officer for Ghana’s Ministry of Health. Through his leadership, the group was able to eradicate Guinea worm disease from the country, a disease that Dr. Seidu had contracted as a college student. Dr. Seidu now travels around the world with the UN, working with health professionals to do research and continue to hold conferences about ending the disease.
Seidu called her father one of her biggest role models. “My dad is way too dedicated to think of retiring because he loves it so much,” Seidu said.
When the time came to choose a college, Seidu’s mother played a large part in the decision. Eunice Seidu pursued her degree in education, and she is currently working on her Ph.D. in educational psychology as she teaches at the University of Cape Coast. She has also opened three schools throughout Ghana and has set out to change the standards and curriculum of Ghana’s educational system.
“My mom had chosen which schools I attended by her own standards, not those put in place by the public system,” Seidu said. “That’s also why she went out to create her own schools: to do things her own way.”
Seidu knew that whichever school she chose would have to be close enough to extended family members for living purposes. The young student also wanted a full four-year undergraduate study program to prepare her for med school. “At first, I thought it was as easy as applying to Stanford and getting into med school,” Seidu explained. “Everyone said to do it in Ghana because it takes less time, but I did my research and found that the system in the U.S. was not that different.”
After applying to schools along the east coast, Seidu chose La Salle because it was close enough to her extended family in New Jersey and provided the undergraduate degree that she was looking for. La Salle also gave her a great scholarship. Seidu knew of another girl from her high school who attended La Salle, and she had a positive opinion of the school.
The date for move-in was set. She and her mother stayed in New Jersey with cousins, which would turn into Seidu’s home when she is not staying at La Salle.
Upon arriving on campus, Seidu was anxious. “I was thinking that I know none of these people. My parents have thrown me to the wolves!”
Once her roommates arrived, Seidu started to become comfortable with the environment. “I’m shy, and if you don’t know me personally, you don’t know how I am,” Seidu explained. “Everyone thinks I’m super quiet, but step team gave me that opportunity to get out of my shell. I told myself ‘You can do this, you’re making new friends.’ ”
Being away from her home in Ghana and her family was especially hard.
“There are times that it would hit me because being in this setting, not living with my parents, I’ve done that before. But there were times when it would hit me that I have not seen my sister for over a year. What if she’s grown tall, what if she’s grown fat? What if dad got new glasses?” Seidu explained. “I was buried in work, so I didn’t have much time to sit and think,” she admitted.
In particular, Seidu has learned to appreciate the size of La Salle’s campus and the personal relationships she has formed with her professors. “I would have never been able to get in touch with Dr. Straub, get chocolate from Dr. Cichowicz’s office or ask how Dr. Peterson’s baby is doing,” Seidu said. This pre-med student has found her place on campus and expresses her appreciation of the support from her extended family in the states and parents.
Seidu shows her skills and knowledge through her commitment to her dream. “The heart is something that requires attention, and there are people who are not fortunate enough to have healthy hearts, she concluded. “I want to fix it and help them have healthy lives.” She is an example for those around her both inside and outside of the classroom.