The $247,000 Email: Astrid Sarfo’s Journey to Rice University

If you believe that one email can’t change your life, Astrid Sarfo is a testament to just how wrong you are. Astrid, a senior at Bio-Med Science Academy, a STEM+M school on the NEOMED campus, recently learned via email that she had received a full ride to attend Rice University in Houston, Texas, through a QuestBridge scholarship. QuestBridge is a nonprofit that collaborates with top-ranked college and universities. It uses a matching system, allowing students to rank their colleges/universities in hopes that they will match with one of the colleges/universities to which they apply.

Although Astrid was born in the United States, her parents are from Ghana. Her father attended a university in Germany, and then met her mother during the holidays while in Ghana. They were married, and after her father won a direct visa entry into the U.S. from the Diversity Visa Lottery, he and her mother moved to the United States. Astrid was born in South Bend, Indiana, and now resides in Brimfield, not far from NEOMED.

There isn’t much of a Ghanaian presence in Portage County, so Astrid’s parents have worked hard to keep the culture alive in her and her two brothers. At home, the family speaks Twi (a native language in Ghana) and eats soups and rice popular in Ghana. Astrid’s family attends a Ghanaian church in Cleveland, and a huge part of keeping the culture alive is through the music they sing there.

“My diversity and how it’s shaped me was one of my best qualities when applying for my scholarship,” says Astrid. “There are lots of immigrants and children of immigrants, but how being those things influences your life is different for everyone.”

Astrid has used her diversity in a positive way to better understand all peoples around her. Her love of culture and medicine has sparked her interest in global health studies. NEOMED has helped foster that interest, as have Astrid’s internships with World Relief Akron and Akron Children’s Hospital.

“NEOMED has numerous professionals I’ve been able to talk to. Being on the campus makes the future more real. It’s one thing to say you want to be a doctor, but being around the medicine students, seeing what they’re doing and interacting with them helps a lot,” says Astrid.

While Rice University doesn’t have a global health program, it gives students the ability to propose majors. Texas Medical Center is only five minutes away, providing countless opportunities for students to conduct research or work with doctors and physicians. Astrid wants to get involved in Global Health Student Interest Groups throughout her years as an undergraduate and graduate student. Her scholarship will allow her to study abroad, and she hopes to do so somewhere in Africa.

Astrid is grateful that the prospect of going into debt through her higher education has been lifted off her shoulders. Now all she needs is a pair of cowgirl boots, and she’ll be ready for her journey to Houston this fall!

--Gabrielle Biltz is a senior at Bio-Med Science Academy and an intern in the NEOMED Office of Public Relations and Marketing.

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