As she donned her cap and gown for UNCG’s Commencement earlier this month, Comfort Amoaforo had much to celebrate. Not only did she receive her bachelor’s degree in nursing, but she’s also one step closer to the goal she’s been pursuing for the last 10 years.

But it hasn’t been easy.

Amoaforo left her home country of Ghana in 2006. Her first stop was New York, but not too long after her arrival, she moved to Charlotte to live with friends.

“I came here seeking the American dream,” she said.

In Charlotte, Amoaforo began working as a parking attendant for Bank of America, but she’d always had an interest in nursing, so she enrolled at Central Piedmont Community College (CPCC) part time and took classes to become a certified nursing assistant.

After receiving her certification, Amoaforo took a job in a nursing home. It was there that she discovered her passion for geriatric care.

Amoaforo said it struck her how differently the elderly were treated in the United States from how they are treated in Ghana.

“Here, in America, many older adults live in nursing homes. Families don’t spend too much time with them,” she said. “Back home, we lived with our grandparents. They took care of us growing up, and we took care of them in their old age.”

Amoaforo enjoyed helping her patients with the little things they can’t do for themselves anymore, such as scratching their back or taking a shower.

“I think they are the patients I need to help the most,” she said.

She returned to CPCC and completed her associate of arts degree. She heard about UNCG’s nursing program and applied as a pre-nursing student. She was accepted in 2013. A year later, she was also accepted into the School of Nursing.

­­­­Between tough classes and a demanding clinical schedule, graduating from nursing school is an achievement for anyone, but Amoaforo can add overcoming the linguistic and cultural challenges of being a foreign student to her list of accomplishments.

“The way of teaching in Ghana is different, and American English is also different,” Amoaforo said.

It was faculty members, such as Dr. Susan Collins, who invested time and energy into Amoaforo’s academic career and saw to her success. Collins helped her learn how to study for exams, and explained class content in different ways outside of the classroom.

“She’s the reason why I’m here,” Amoaforo said. “She showed an interest in me. She took time to listen to me and helped me in any way she could.”

Amoaforo will return to Ghana to spend some time with her family this summer. When she returns, she will begin her first full-time position as a registered nurse with Baylor Scott and White Healthcare System in Texas.

 

Story by Jeanie McDowell, University Relations
Photography by Martin W. Kane, University Relations