Adeline Angkosaala has always aspired to pursue higher education. Among the many obstacles she overcame to realize her dream was a planned arranged marriage at age 15.
When CARISCA director and KNUST Business School Dean Nathaniel Boso is asked how he gets so much accomplished, he gives credit to his former administrative assistant Adeline Angkosaala. He describes her as “very efficient, highly organized, ethical and kind.”
“She made life easier for me as a dean because I did not have to struggle to retrieve information and get things done. I had a capable assistant,” Boso says.
Over time, he observed that Angkosaala was much more capable than even the most able administrative assistant. He believed she had the potential to become a fellow faculty member and contribute to knowledge.
“Adeline has an exceptional cognitive capacity, excellent understanding of contemporary topical themes in organizational leadership, and strong writing skills,” Boso says. “I made it clear to her that she had a gift of academic excellence that she should put to greater use to advance the well-being of humankind.”
After some persuading, Angkosaala took that advice. She now expects to graduate from KNUST in November with a PhD in organisational leadership. As further evidence that Boso judged her correctly, Angkosaala took second place in the PhD Dissertation Awards Competition at CARISCA’s 2022 Supply Chain Research Summit in June.
“I was not surprised at all because I knew she was someone with exceptional talent,” says Boso. “I reminded her at the summit dinner that she had just bagged one piece of evidence to demonstrate her academic success.”
The turning point in the family
For her part, Angkosaala had always aspired to higher education, but she encountered many obstacles along the way. At age 9, she was sent to live with and care for her grandparents in the north. She stayed with them until she was 15 and overheard plans to have her married off.
“I was not interested,” she states. “I wanted to pursue my education. So I had to run all the way, without even taking any of my belongings, back to my parents.”
There, she finished junior high school but could only go on to high school because her mother asked friends to loan money toward the fees. Her father did not support her continued education.
“He said I will just end up in my husband’s house, and he is not going to benefit in any way,” says Angkosaala.
But she was determined to get an education. Her three older siblings had missed out on that chance when their father went into hiding for nine years to avoid arrest over a story published in the newspaper he edited. He was even declared dead.
Adeline was born after he reappeared and rejoined the family. Three other siblings soon followed.
“I said I would be the turning point in the family,” Angkosaala recalls. “I can’t let all of us just be completely illiterate. I have to be the one who at least leads the way so that those following me can also see the benefit in education.”
A true reflection of female resilience
After completing secondary school, Angkosaala did not have the money to continue her education, so she got a job teaching at a primary school. Over two years, she saved enough to enroll at Kumasi Polytechnic, where she earned her higher national diploma in secretaryship and management studies.
Angkosaala subsequently joined KNUST, where she has worked in administrative assistant roles for 16 years while earning her bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees. She has also raised two daughters largely on her own after her husband, whom she married at 26, left the family to seek his fortunes in the U.K.
Upon graduation this fall, she hopes to stay at KNUST in a lecturer role and then rise through the academic ranks. Her research interest is in green leadership behaviors of logistics and transport organizations.
Angkosaala says she wants to conduct research to help minimize the transportation industry’s negative effects on carbon emissions.
“This work is going to assist policymakers to know the sort of vehicles and machinery they have to choose for their operations and even how to use them on a daily basis,” she says.
Dean Boso, her former boss, believes that Angkosaala’s impact will extend well beyond her field of study.
“Adeline’s life experience is a true reflection of female resilience in a turbulent and male-dominated environment,” he says. “Young girls growing up in Ghana’s and Africa’s complex cultural settings can look at her experience and achievement as a motivation to be strong and withstand difficult conditions.”
Angkosaala explains her accomplishments this way: “It’s all about determination and perseverance. I knew where I came from, and for somebody to see the desire in me and the capabilities that I can do it, I needed to prove to them that I can do it.”