Alumnus continues to ‘fight the world’s fight’ as Rhode Scholar

Kofi Gunu is not your average Augustana alumnus. Since graduating summa cum laude in 2017, Gunu has gone on to obtain a master’s degree from Tsinghua University in Beijing where he was a Schwarzman Scholar.

If that is not enough, Gunu was recently named the 2019 Rhodes Scholar for West Africa. He is only the fourth Augustana graduate to receive this prestigious award.

Gunu led a fairly normal childhood in northern Ghana with parents who highly valued education for him and his three siblings.

Having a father who works as a librarian, Gunu developed a love for reading at an early age.

“I spent countless hours after school in my father’s library reading and imagining life in the places I read about. Reading gave me a window to the world beyond our northern Ghana town, and I think that curiosity still drives me today,” said Gunu.

Gunu ventured far beyond his northern Ghana town in 2002 when he found himself in Brandon, South Dakota, as an exchange student through the Youth Exchange and Study program. His time at Brandon Valley High School led him to Augustana where he majored in government and international affairs.

  Gunu said, though, that his time at Augustana was focused on defining his calling.

“From my participation in the Peace Scholars program to Civitas classes to student politics, I believe I gained greater clarity on how I could use my education to benefit my community and my country,” Gunu said.

That clarity landed him in the office of the Ghanaian vice president, Mahamudu Bawumia, as a national service fellow after his time at Tsinghua University.

Gunu’s passion for international affairs was fostered by Augustana’s population of international students.

“My fellow international students sustained me in countless ways and kept me grounded in the four years I was at Augustana. It is my hope that the Augustana community does even more than it is currently doing to ensure that international students feel seen, heard and valued,” Gunu said.

Gunu now spends his time assisting the government of Ghana with designing an apprenticeship program and promoting a more robust partnership with China. However, in his free time, you will find Gunu playing games of pick-up soccer or taking salsa lessons.

After pursuing his doctoral degree in International Relations at Oxford, Gunu hopes to be well on his way to becoming Ghana’s youngest foreign minister.

Now the rest of the world, alongside the Augustana community, will get to follow Gunu’s journey as he attempts to fulfill the motto of Rhode Scholars: “fight the world’s fight.”

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