“I come from a country where you observe poverty readily,” says Nana Cudjoe. Indeed, nearly 80 percent of the population of Ghana, West Africa earns less than $2 a day.
“For many, health care is not an option,” she says. “As a child, I felt a personal obligation to change that.” So that she can effect change, Nana is hard at work as an Honors student majoring in Biology, for her dream is to become a physician who specializes in rural and family health. In fact, she chose to attend “Florida State because of the camaraderie among the students and their urge to help others.”
Nana returns to the country of her birth for annual visits. At the age of 14, having learned that many people could not afford to visit a hospital only a short distance away, Nana decided to establish a hospital in the village of Darkuman. Over the next three years, she gathered support from an uncle (Ghana’s director of military health and a physician), who found a plot of land and a small house that could be used, and from church members in Fort Myers, who donated supplies—from Band-Aids to notepaper. Nana, who speaks several of the country’s languages, says, “Starting a hospital is not the difficult part, it’s having the funds to keep it up and running.”
Another uncle, Dr. Ofori-Amanfo, a professor and surgeon at Columbia University, and his colleagues, donated the initial funds. The Darkuman Private Hospital became a reality—a 6-bed facility that serves the needs of the extremely ill.
Although Nana takes pride in the hospital as a major accomplishment, she has also enjoyed her leadership activities on campus. “Being the cultural director of the African Student Association has enabled me to encounter many cultures, and for that I am forever grateful.”
Hoping to discover plants that can be synthesized into medicine, Nana recently completed an Honors DIS on the spatial distribution of herbivores and the quality of plants. “I have a strong interest in helping the less fortunate. One day, I hope to incorporate my research into my daily use of medicine.”