Since I have been in school for the most part of my life, I will try to keep this section on a lighter note with a little banter. Talking about myself and what drives me is hard sometimes; it is hard to explain when new ideas keep invading your mind on a regular basis so I will give this my best shot!

You should find more information about my hobbies through my social media handles and if you are interested in viewing my professional milestones, please check out my Linkedin profile.

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“There’s no better prize than winning a game against your younger self”.

Kukua Anthonyin

Who is Esther Kukua Anthonyin Annan?

My story does start with my educational journey. Interestingly, looking back at my life, I realize that each stage towards my career path was rife with multiple options. As a child, I wanted to be a pediatrician. I always said I loved kids but I was a child then so who knows, maybe my friends were just amusing. On a more serious note though, I did keep the mission of ‘saving the world’ at heart with wide-eyed optimism. At one point, although I doubt I vocalized these thoughts to my parents, I wanted to to be a police officer and work for the LAPD- yep, somewhere in Ghana, Tema to be precise, I was dreaming of being in a police workforce in a city I knew nothing about because I loved action movies. I guess I never felt the need to vocalize this because I knew it wasn’t happening. Not Esther Annan, born to Mr and Mrs Annan. At an early age, as incorporated into our morning devotions and sometimes held as separate sessions, dad would instill in us lessons that no teacher elsewhere would teach- practical life lessons. He would always mention that what he was interested in giving us was something no one would be able to take way- education. While this was mostly in reference to formal education, I keep realizing how invaluable it is to learn just about anything. In Ghana, there were just few job prospects that afforded financial security and I’ve never met a better planner than my dad. The idea of pursuing medicine was not hard to conceive. My strengths were skewed. Where my interests where, my grades followed. I loved the sciences in general; math and science were my forte. Overall, I only had to read a week or two before exams to excel in these two and the others, especially courses that required memorization would be a little unforgiving but I would still manage to be in the top 3 so I was generally content. After my brother successfully jumped one level of senior high into University, my family devised a plan for me to jump two levels. What would generally be a break between junior high and senior high was an intense period of studying. I enrolled with students attending remedial classes to resit the West African Secondary School Exam (WASSCE- similar to a college entrance exam) and after my first year of senior high, we convinced my school headmaster to allow me to sit for their school WASSCE. While the remedial classes were helpful, the teachers I shall forever be indebted to are those from my family. Daddy and my brother ensured that my core and elective math were on point. I still remember my dad waking me up to study and going through solutions of sample exams with me. He was also in charge of physics- although physics was never truly my stronghold; after all, the crab does not give birth to a bird (Ghanaian Proverb- I am just a chip of the old block). One of my sisters was my English/Literature source, the other my biology consultant and mummy- she played such an important role supporting this ambition and ensuring my belly was never famished no matter how picky I was (and it seems, I will forever unashamedly be).

At the beginning of my second year in high school. I had results from my first exam. I faced two choices. Enter college and pursue biological science and switch to medicine the following year or go through second year of college and go with the second results. Mmm, no brainer- college it was. I had made a double leap and I’d never felt more accomplished. Although I would still end up pursing medicine with the second exam (after almost switching to computer science- a story for another day), for me, to do what no one had ever done before was an achievement. I felt unique. This feeling didn’t last long after enrolling in med school the next year. The issue wasn’t that everybody was smart. The issue was that for a while, I hadn’t realized that my style of learning in primary school/junior high was the bare minimum. I had considered those 6 years the most challenging years yet. Each academic year was miles away from home. For someone who always relied on mummy’s scrumptious recipes, with no competing taste on the market, I was screwed. I did not learn to cook out of passion. I had to learn for survival; for my palate and pocket and now I am thankful for this as it has evolved into a desire to explore more recipes from different cultures. My experiences in med school could take another paragraph so I will skip to my sudden interest in public health.

After working for approximately 3 years as a clinician, I was done. Not because the joy after seeing someone recover had dwindled- for each one that didn’t and for gaps that I would attribute to systemic issues, it became hard for me to enjoy what I was doing. So, on to save not just one, but a population at a time through research, health management and policy making/implementation. At NYU, I fell in love with epidemiology. It wouldn’t be just writing now with an epidemiology career. I’d be applying math too. So here we are, still pursing a career in epidemiology.

So how does this fit into this newly found interest of mine? I still believe I am a long way to fully achieving my potential but I believe life lessons have been crucial in getting me where I am and where I see myself going. When I was a child, I hangout at home, school and in church(frankly, I can’t say this has changed much). The lessons I learned from home and church are what have formulated my values not just with individuals, but at school and work. I think that while there is seemingly a wealth of information online, some are partly regurgitations of what people would like to see. In Ghana, you’d grow up feeling everyone had your back because people are just blunt (if you know me personally- helleeerr- we say it as it comes). But I am learning each day to do this more in love and to hold people accountable even if I have nothing to benefit from it. So what I hope to achieve through this website, is to interact with a community of people who are willing to learn, track their milestones and make the tracks of this journey’s hurdles softer to land on.

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