Laura Ethel Akafful comes from Abomosu, a small town in the Eastern region of Ghana. She started her basic school education from Abomosu Presbyterian Primary School and moved to Adum Presbyterian Junior High School in Kumasi. She then progressed to Wesley Girls’ High School, Kumasi, for her Senior High School education, where she studied General Science. After SHS, she taught Mathematics and General science in a private JHS, later went to the University of Ghana, and studied BSc Earth Science. She is currently pursuing MSc Petroleum Geoscience, also at the University of Ghana. She is a young and smart geoscience consultant and entrepreneur in the LP gas industry.
Why did you get into STEM?
At an early age, there were many stories on earth formation and natural resources that I knew easily due to the resource endowment of gold and diamond in my town. My father was a gold and diamond retailer and I was his assistant even at an early age, mostly with checking gold quality with fire and book keeping. I had a lot of interest in studying general science due to my knowledge in natural resource exploitation. I applied for three different engineering courses but I got into the Earth Science program upon admission. However, I fell in love completely after I read about the course and realized that was what I was actually looking for. I loved Earth Science because I felt very connected to it due to my childhood experiences. I majored in Geology with some minor courses in Petroleum Geoscience and did my national service, upon completion, with Newmont Golden Ridge Limited.
What do you consider your greatest achievements?
It is very hard for me to talk of a particular achievement but I have come to appreciate how I have gotten to know, accept and love myself. As a young woman, I face much pressure from friends, family and the society which could have forced me to live a life I might not have wanted. With my self-realization and courage, I have successfully established my business in the gas industry. I am a Geoscientist that advocates for the safe and convenient use of the resources that are produced, especially the use of LP gas over the use of firewood. I advocate for clean energy and I am hoping to achieve much success in this path I have chosen.
What challenges have you faced as a woman in STEM and how did you overcome them?
My first challenge was a lack of information. I have realized that young girls are not very educated on the opportunities in STEM and they end up in other fields. I knew I wanted to work in a resource extraction industry but I didn’t know how to go about it. I was encouraged to enter the nursing school or pharmacy which I had no interest in pursuing but knew well of – I was able to overcome this by
reading wide and being persistent. When it comes to challenges in starting my business, I would say that it was intimidation from the way the industry hails men. It is a male-dominated area and almost all meetings of LPG retailers were 99% men in attendance. I was therefore courageous, persistence and with prayer, found a spot to step in the industry.
What is your advice to budding women in STEM?
My advice to budding women in STEM is that they should follow their passion and read to know more. I would encourage each and every young lady to stay focused and build inherent strength by knowing themselves and building the courage to overcome your fears and doubts. Pray for opportunities and when they do come, grab them fast and work hard, with humility. Above all, love God and yourself and note that “if you have confidence dosses (knowledge, appearance, Godly values, etc.), take an overdose of them daily to help you win.”