Student Profile: Ghana Student Finds Truth in the Buzz about an American Education

Marilyn Osei

Marilyn Osei traveled halfway around the world for a firsthand experience of American higher education.

“My decision to transfer to Webster was partly sparked by my older sister, who also traveled from Ghana to receive dual degrees in international studies and art from Webster, and partly by my curiosity to see what the fuss was about when it came to an American college education,” said Osei, a junior double major in English and economics, with a minor in video production.

“Coming to Webster as a sophomore from Ashesi University College, a Ghanaian college, was an exciting journey that ultimately confirmed the claims I had heard about the excellent quality of an American education. I love my time here.”

What makes Webster unique is its diversity and inclusive environment, said Osei, who is one of five children.

“Webster has always felt like home, since the first semester I came here,” she said. “The people at Webster are so accommodating to other cultures, and are just as fascinated by your culture as you are about theirs. Webster also takes into account that people have many interests and the University’s curriculum is such that you can study more than one major or even a minor while you are here.”

A Fascination with Literature

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Marilyn participating in an open mic event in Ghana

When choosing a major, English was an easy choice for Osei.

“My father always told me that doing something you love is more important that ending up on a miserable career path,” said Osei, 21. “I have always been fascinated with literature: the art of writing, prose, poetry, and drama.”

Before coming to Webster, Osei already spoke fluent English and Twi, the native language in Ghana, along with a small amount of French.

The professors at Webster have continued to feed Osei’s love and fascination for learning.

“I learn more from a professor who is passionate about what he is teaching than one who isn’t. And the professors at Webster bring that passion to the table. I think the professors here are always happy to help you in any way they can inside and outside of the classroom,” she said.

English professor Murray Farish is one professor who finds Osei’s enthusiasm and excitement about learning admirable.

“Even good students will often stay within the bounds of what they know, what they’re good at, but Marilyn is always looking for new challenges, and she pursues them with a ferocious intellectual energy,” Farish said.

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Marilyn with her father, Samwilliam Quaye, and her sister, Yvonne Osei, who also graduated from Webster

Osei’s love of English is something she shares with her father. Since childhood, she and her father would choose a book to read and discuss the book’s characters and themes. Those discussions about literature continue now in St. Louis with her English professors.

“Most people say English is boring,” Osei said. “I believe English, or actually pretty much anything else, can be boring when presented by someone who has no passion for what they are teaching. But professors in Webster’s English department are very devoted to the subject they are teaching.”

Sometimes it is easy for young adults, like herself, to lose focus and motivation, she said. With the guidance and commitment of a professor who has zeal for a particular subject or subjects, Osei also believes a young person’s motivation to pursue his/her goals can easily be rekindled.

English professor Karla Armbruster finds Osei to be “a courageous, enthusiastic and original thinker.”

“Marilyn is an extremely sophisticated reader of literature, so she is able to contribute more than her share to class discussions in terms of literary analysis, while also bringing a very valuable perspective from outside U.S. culture,” Armbruster said.

“She falls in love with books and is willing to say so, and she’s also willing to delve bravely into the complexities of their structure, language, and ideas both in class and in her written work. She loves a good disagreement and is able to conduct a spirited argument with good grace, which is a wonderful example for the many students who either fear disagreements or who can only engage in them in a counterproductive way.”

The Science and Psychology of Economics

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Marilyn was featured in her sister’s BFA project at Webster

Her interest for economics was sparked in high school. After coming to Webster and continuing on that path, her interest in the subject has only deepened.

“The thing that has always fascinated me most about economics is how it’s a science that uses facts, but at the same time there is so much psychology involved because it deals with the way humans react to the market. This fusion of objectivity and subjectivity in the field captivates me,” Osei said. “Since I felt I had a knack for the subject, I decided to also pursue it when I came to Webster. I have found the professors, much like in English, also are very knowledgeable and dedicated to their field.”

The time her professors in both subjects are willing to spend outside the classroom with their students is something that puts Webster a step above the rest, in Osei’s mind.

“I have yet to encounter a professor who isn’t willing to meet with me to discuss an upcoming paper or something that I wanted further explanation of outside of class,” she said.

Economics Professor Patrick Rishe in the School of Business enjoys how open Osei is about her life in Africa.

“Marilyn is enjoyable because she speaks her mind and has been willing to share experiences from Ghana with the entire class to help us gain a more diverse and worldly perspective of labor economics topics,” Rishe said.

Unexpected Surprises

While the shock of living in the Midwest has not been too great for Osei, the cold weather has taken her by surprise.

“I’ve traveled to the United States several times, but I guess I never came here during the winter because the cold and the sudden changes in temperature has been hard,” said Osei, who has family that lives in the United States. Throughout her life, she has also traveled to England, the Netherlands, and other European countries.

While living in Accra, Ghana, Osei enjoyed a 30-minute commute to Ashesi University College. But despite the 15-hour plane ride with multiple layovers from Ghana to St. Louis, Osei still believes her choice to study at Webster University in the United States was the right one.

A trip to Chicago last summer

“I have enjoyed my journey here,” she said. “I continue to experience as much American culture as I can, but I do miss my family, my country, and my culture as well.”

After college, she would like to work as an economist while continuing to focus on her writing. She plans to keep taking film classes after graduation, since she also has a passion for how literature is portrayed in film and would love to one day become a filmmaker. She hopes to eventually earn a master’s degree in economics.