First visually impaired PhD holder graduates from UCC

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The first visually impaired person to ever attain a PhD from the University of Cape Coast (UCC), Dr Ben Bishop Nyanihorba Ayamba, has successfully graduated at the university’s just-ended 56th Congregation.

He graduated with a doctorate degree in Guidance and Counselling having gone through the seven-year rigorous and demanding journey from 2016 to 2023.

He was one of the 103 PhD graduands who were among a total of 3,034 postgraduate students who graduated on Friday.

For his feat, Dr Ayamba received the Special Chancellor’s Award of US $2,000, amid applause and celebration from the entire congregation.

In total, UCC graduated 18,539 undergraduate and postgraduate students at the 56th congregation which commenced from Tuesday, January 23 to Friday, January 26.

Dr Ayamba, who was born sighted, lost his sight in an accident on Tuesday, August 08, 1995, while driving and disrupting his smooth academic journey.

Still determined to proceed on the academic path, he was rehabilitated at the School of the Blind at Akropong on Saturday, November 11 that year.

In November 1996, he went to the Prebyterian Training College of Education at Akropong to begin a three-year Cert A course after which he was posted to teach at the Ntonso LA Junior High School (JHS) in September 1999.

After two years, he pursued his first degree at UCC where he studied B. ED Psychology, majoring in English, from 2001 to 2004.

Fortunately, he was appointed to teach English at the Mampong Technical College of Education on August 31, 2004, and after three years, he returned to UCC for his MPhil in Guidance and Counsel from 2007 to 2010.

Upon completion, he returned to teach at the Mampong Technical College of Education where he will be retiring in 26 days.

He also teaches part time at the UCC College of Distance Education (CoDE).

In 2016, Dr Ayamba started his pursuit for PhD in Guidance and Counselling which he successfully completed in 2023.

Dr Ayamba attributed his feat to God, his determination and finding himself in a supportive and conducive learning environment.

He noted that the resource centre for Persons with Disabilities at UCC was extremely supportive in his first and second degrees which made lectures quite easy.

He said the centre helped him in transcribing his scripts, gave him digital access to the computers at the centre and fitted his computer with all the assistive devices he required.

“The Lecturers were also helpful; knowing our situation, especially those of us with visual impairment, they put the right methodologies in place to help us get the content and the necessary skills and competencies before completion,” he said.

Dr Ayamba entreated parents of children with disabilities to seek guidance and support to enroll them in the appropriate institutions to unearth their potential and interests, instead of hiding them from the society.

“Some parents think once the child is disabled, he cannot do anything. They should contact the social welfare and the Ghana Blind Union and other organisations for the physically challenged,” he said.

“There are a lot of educational facilities and rehabilitation centres to assess the capabilities of the child to know where they fit best; whether in an inclusive school, a mainstreaming school or to be placed in a special school,” he added.

Dr Ayamba indicated that even though he was retiring in 26 days, he was still available for the nation having bagged a PhD in Guidance and Counselling.

Prof Johnson Nyarko Boampong, the Vice Chancellor of UCC, challenged the graduands to believe in their abilities and dare to climb higher heights in every endeavour.

He urged them to reflect on their goals and set out clear strategies to achieve their dreams with hard work and dedication.

“We have empowered you with knowledge and skills that will enable you to make a positive impact in society and the world at large.

“It is our hope that having received quality education and skills, you do not wait to be employed by the government. Go out there and create jobs for yourselves,” he said.

Prof Boampong urged all stakeholders to continue to work hard to ensure that UCC attained its vision of being a globally acclaimed university for innovative teaching, research, outreach, and professional development.

He assured that the School of Graduate Studies would promulgate policies that would ensure quality and relevance of postgraduate programmes to socio-economic development.

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