Ghanian Anatomy Professor Dissects an Impressive Career to Begin Again in the U.S.

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From Harvard to NewYork-Presbyterian, Ann tackles new challenges in American academia

Ann’s corner office is tidy and practical, warmed by glowing lamplight. She peers to her left, and her monitor’s camera captures a professional headshot in real time. This is the angle that her students so often see her from when she teaches university courses in anatomy from her home office in New York.

Both a teacher and a student, Ann, 44, immigrated to the U.S. from Ghana in 2019 with a wide open mind. Leaving her husband, two kids, and an accomplished career in academia behind, she moved to be closer to her mother, who had immigrated to the U.S. for marriage years prior.

Ann had always thought her ticket to the U.S. would be as a student. Back in 2006, she found herself with that ticket in hand a U.S. sponsor, acceptance into Harvard University’s biological sciences master’s program, and a student visa. Unfortunately, her sponsor passed away two months before she was set to depart.

“It was a blow,” says Ann, as her sponsor’s passing not only put her educational pursuits in the U.S. on a permanent hold, but barred her from living near her mother.

With just an undergraduate degree in hand, she had to rethink her entire life and career, ultimately getting her master’s degree in human anatomy at the University of Ghana instead. She spent the next decade contributing to the growth of the region’s top university.

By 2013, her teaching, mentorship, and research roles led to an international opportunity: a European Union-funded doctoral scholarship at the University of Nairobi in Kenya. During a three-year stint, she studied veterinary anatomy across the continent from her husband and budding family.

“My kids were really small I mean, I had to leave my daughter when she was a baby,” says Ann. At the time, she even had to wean her daughter off of breast milk.

But Ann acknowledges that this initial distance eased her family’s worries about her next international move.

For years, Ann had traveled between Ghana and the U.S. to visit her mother. Over a decade after her first attempt to study in the U.S., she felt much less inclined to start over from scratch in a new country. But by 2019, Ann realized it was time to make the move. Once again, she had to leave her husband and kids behind.

“You know, kids you talk to them,” Ann says. “Their minds were prepared a long time ago that this was happening, and if they want to join me here, then I have to come first.”

She had built her first career in academia from the ground up, and with her mind set on the jump across the Atlantic, she knew she could do the same in the U.S. It would just take some extra research.

“I just googled, ‘professionals integrating to the U.S.,’” Ann says, which connected her to the job coaches and training programs at Upwardly Global. Upon her arrival in 2019, her newest academic discipline of study was the American workforce.

After a few months with Upwardly Global, Anna saw the floodgates open, and offers from institutions across the U.S. began to pour in. Living with her mom in New York, she began a post-doc fellowship at Harvard Medical School, where she worked virtually in cancer research.

Now, Ann teaches anatomy as an Adjunct Assistant Professor at the Borough of Manhattan Community College, or BMCC, and works as a Clinical Research Coordinator at NewYork-Presbyterian.

“It’s a beautiful country everybody loves to help,” says Ann, smiling. “Reaching out to Upwardly Global is a great way to get into the system and navigate your way through. All the resources are here, the opportunities are here; whatever you want to do, you can do.”

As she settles in, Ann has a glow in her eye the expansive opportunities in her new country excite her curiosities about anatomy and disease prevention, and the roles she’s grown into now open doors for her family, too. Any minute now, her husband and kids will join.

“I wouldn’t say that I have ‘arrived’ just yet,” Ann laughs, the desk next to her aglow. “But it’s been up and up and up. Everything is possible here.”

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