April 7, 2022
Meet-a-Ram: Atuahene Adu-Gyamfi and Roland Kusi
Duo finds success at VCU and creates podcast to tell their stories.
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Editor’s note: Meet-a-Ram is an occasional VCU News series about the students, faculty, staff and alumni who make Virginia Commonwealth University such a dynamic place to live, work and study.
Today, we meet Atuahene Adu-Gyamfi, a junior majoring in biology, and Roland Kusi, a junior majoring in biomedical engineering. They both grew up in Ghana and immigrated to the United States as teenagers. They reunited at VCU freshman year and became roommates. A year ago, they created the Feel That Podcast to talk about the immigrant experience and life at VCU.
How did you two meet?
Adu-Gyamfi: We went to the same school back in Ghana. We actually transferred to a school together in the fourth grade. In the ninth grade, I moved to the U.S., and Roland moved to the U.S. in his 10th year in school. When we met here at VCU, I think it had been 10 years since we had seen each other.
How did you two immigrate to the United States?
Adu-Gyamfi: My parents moved here in 2011. They won the American immigration lottery. I joined them in 2015.
Kusi: My stepdad was here already. I lived with my mom and grandma in Ghana. My mom moved to the states in 2013. I came in 2016.
Did you two plan to attend VCU together?
Adu-Gyamfi: We had stayed in touch. We had been texting each other back and forth. We would ask each other, “What’s up?”
Kusi: We talked, but it just happened. I was living in Northern Virginia and Atuahene also lived in Northern Virginia. We went to different high schools. I applied to four schools, including VCU. He got into other schools as well. I chose VCU because I had a scholarship and financial aid. He told VCU he wanted to come. It just happened naturally I believe.
How did you two realize you were both going to VCU?
Adu-Gyamfi: We knew we were going to end up here together. When we both made up our minds to come here, I asked him if he wanted to be my roommate. It’s crazy how it worked out. It’s such a small world that we ended up roommates freshman year. I was happy to meet him again.
Kusi: It’s really interesting. Freshman year was really different. Everything was new. It was a lot of work. I would come to the dorm, and he would be at the library studying. He put a lot of work into his craft and so did I. We both got involved in stuff like Developing Men of Color. Freshman year we did spend time together, but it was more about school and figuring out Richmond and VCU.
Where did the idea for the podcast come from?
Kusi: We had a podcast in mind, but we really focused on YouTube to start. We tried to take it slow. Basically, it all started from my freshman year. We spent a lot of time on school. I was trying to figure this biomedical engineering out. We both spent a lot of time on the books and decided that we knew a lot about Richmond and VCU that we thought we could share. We had experiences of being born in Ghana and moving to the states and excelling in school. We felt like a lot of people could benefit from us. Our initial emphasis was having 4.0 GPAs and letting people know how to get 4.0s. It kind of transformed into our overall experiences because that is who we are.
Adu-Gyamfi: Personally, I have been listening to podcasts since the beginning of freshman year. I listen to Joe Rogan. I listen to Radiolab. A bunch of podcasts. We were personally interested in maintaining our school stuff. We moved here from Africa. One of the main reasons our parents came here was they wanted to give us a better education. That was the main priority freshman year. Then we started talking sophomore year about our experiences and how it was hard to speak up when we first moved here. The language was hard. We were able to create a platform to share our experiences. Nobody told us when we got here that you can push through. Stay focused. We decided to launch this platform to share our experiences as immigrants.
In one episode you talk about your feelings about the American dream. Can you talk about that?
Adu-Gyamfi: I think personally, as Africans, as immigrants, one of the main things we pride ourselves on is education. We are able to get a good education. We are setting ourselves up for the future. With our education, we can basically go back to Africa and say we made it. There are a lot of things that people born here take for granted. In one of our episodes, we talk about back in Ghana it’s really hard to have electricity on for two days straight. I have been at VCU three years, and we have only had the lights out once or twice. People don’t see that as a privilege. Having basic electricity, being able to go to college are important. Those things are our dreams.
Kusi: I believe in the American dream, but you’ve got to work hard. I came here five years ago. It was a lot of hard work and dedication to get to the level where I am right now. We both have other plans. Who knows what happens next, but I have plans to do music. You have to believe in yourself. I keep working hard and let everything else take care of itself.
Do you have goals with the podcast?
Kusi: Yes we do. I have basically a year left and Atuahene has a year. We plan to work and go to school after we graduate. I will be doing my engineering stuff and he will go straight into medical school. But we still want to keep it going. We have our own equipment. We can keep it going wherever we are.
What are your plans after graduation?
Adu-Gyamfi: I want to go to medical school and pursue an M.D./Ph.D. I want to get into the research experience. I will probably take a year off.
Kusi: I think I will go straight into the workforce. I will probably work in a health care setting. I’m in biomedical engineering and I want to get into instrumentation and imaging. So, work in a hospital setting.
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