He knows about feeling frustrated and defeated. If you had experienced half of what he has, you would too.
He also knows the sweet taste of victory. He knows how it feels to get what you deserve, and just how amazing it feels when hard work prevails.
He knows this because he’s lived it all.
Akwasi Frimpong: born in Ghana, citizen of the Netherlands, training for the Olympics and student at UVU.
Where were you born?
I was born on a Sunday in the ‘80s in Kumasi, Ghana. In 1995, I moved to the Netherlands.
What is your family like? How many siblings do you have?
My mom, Esther Amoako, is an internationally well-known Ghanaian gospel artist. She travels over the whole world. My dad supports my mom as her manager and he takes care of the rest of the family, too. My Brother [Kofi] is a business student as well and a great dancer and actor. He has done a few dance and theater shows in his life. My younger sister Priscilla is in high school at the moment. She is an incredible dancer as well. Priscilla likes doing the worship dance in church as well. I love my family a lot and I am blessed to have them in my life.
What was the most unique part of your childhood?
Living with my grandma in Ghana and nine other grandchildren in one room was the most unique thing in my life. As I’m growing up now, I realize that we were poor, but blessed to have each other.
What made you choose to come to UVU?
I am not trying to offend anyone, but I always say, “The Mormons know how to find you anywhere you are,” [and] they found me as well. I was going through a lot of struggles in the Netherlands as a kid and I needed to leave and [find] myself. I wanted to go somewhere, where I could pursue my goals and happiness in life. And I must say Utah and UVU has given me this opportunity.
What are some of the biggest cultural differences from where you grew up to where you are now?
I was born in Ghana, where the majority is black, and I grew up in the Amsterdam with 177 different nationalities. I have experienced a lot of different people, cultures, so for me there is not a lot of difference here in Utah.
Of course I am not blind [to] the fact that Utah doesn’t really have a lot of different nationalities. But I love the child-friendly environment here in Utah.
What are your post-UVU plans?
Graduate with a Business Management degree, help UVU win a lot of championships in track and field events and use myself as PR for the university to get more international students here. There is nothing wrong with a little bit more diversity.
My ultimate goal is the Olympic Games. (Akwasi hopes to run in the 2012 Summer Games in London.)
What has been your favorite UVU class?
That will be Marinda Ashman’s class College Student Success. I think it’s now called University Master Student. I took it in my freshmsn year and I felt really accepted in that class and I learned a lot of skills that have been able to help me in my current classes. Furthermore, Marinda was a fun teacher and she was really engaged with her students. I think UVU is really lucky to have her.
What do you do when you’re not a student? Do you have a job or any unusual or interesting hobbies?
Besides school, I am a proud member of UVU’s Wolverine track and field team, I am learning to play the aquatic guitar and I am a global sales intern at Neways, an international network marketing organization.
Are you part of any UVU clubs? If so, which ones?
The track team, MAWL (The Mighty Athletic Wolverine League) and I guess since I am an international student, I am automatically part of the ISC (International Student Club). I used to be part of more clubs at UVU, but I guess you can’t be part of everything in life.
Why do you get up in the morning, or what motivates you to do the things you do?
There are three principles that I have been taught in life that I use every day to achieve my goals: the power of believing in yourself, learned from my grandma in Ghana; the power of self-discipline, learned in my sports; and the power of persistence. I have these principles written on my wall and I look at them every morning.
What’s the best movie you’ve seen this year?
This is an easy one. The Karate Kid with Jayden Smith and [Jackie] Chan. It’s a great movie.
What is your guilty pleasure?
Stroopwafels, the best Dutch cookies ever. It’s a waffle with syrup caramel in between. It’s a must-try.
If you won a million dollars tomorrow, what would you do with it?
I am working on the Akwasi Frimpong Foundation, a foundation that works internationally with youth to help them pursue their dreams and ultimate goals in life, and I [would] love to have a million dollars to support this.
Another thing I [would] do with the million dollars is help UVU track team get bleachers for the new track and a football team for UVU.
In your opinion, what is the most beautiful place on earth and why?
I haven’t been to many places on earth and I don’t want to suck up to Utah, but Utah is a unique and gorgeous place.
Zombies or vampires?
Both freak me out. Zombies are too quiet and I talk too much, and I will never drink people’s blood so no vampire. [Is there] a third option?
If you could share one piece of advice with your fellow UVU students, what would it be?
What you need for success is already planted deep down inside of you – the root of your success starts in believing in yourself, then it is nurtured with a positive attitude, and then hard work and persistence will bring your success to reality.
Peace out folks… See you in the hallways of UVU!