A Janitor In The University: A Story Of Bravery And Determination

Elizabeth Korkor Offei, a level 300 BA Communication Studies student at Wisconsin International University College, Ghana (WIUC-GH) who was once a security guard assigned to the National Petroleum Authority (NPA) headquarters and now a janitor, did not let her present circumstances stand in the way of her aspirations to become the first member of her family to attend university.

Elizabeth Korkor Offei with full of smiles

Elizabeth, 29, began a very difficult road when she lost her biological father at just three years old. She only started schooling at a later age of 14, since her single mother couldn’t afford to pay for her education.

She completed her BECE and WASSCE examinations at the Edubiase Senior High School with perseverance and after numerous setbacks.

Despite her best efforts and perseverance, she could not make the cut into any university. Determined as she is, she enrolled in the mature entrance programme and eventually passed after two trials, allowing her to pursue a first degree at WIUC-GH.

Elizabeth is already in her third year and the demands of academic life and the constant mockery by some of her peers make her journey even more difficult.  Worse of it is when every team will refuse to include her during class group works. It had to take one of her lecturers, Mr Fidel Tetteh to call for sanity in class; an intervention she describes as a breadth of hope. 

Elizabeth’s desire to reach for her dream is derived from her admiration of the staff at the NPA, every morning immaculately dressed in their suits, while she serves them as their errand girl. She recalls how she had run several errands in a day and in the process developed bruises and blisters on her thighs and feet from walking long distances.

Lizzy, popularly called by her colleagues, continues to work as a janitor, shuttling between work and school so she could pay her fees. She merely mumbles and smiles when asked if she’s not embarrassed, adding, “not at all.” “Combining my security job at the NPA with the cleaning service I render to various homes is very tough, there have been times I decided to stop school but thanks to people like Mr Fidel Tetteh, my lecturer at the School of Communication Studies who always encourages me”, She adds.

A “people person” as she describes herself, Elizabeth says her desire to read Communication Studies stems from her love to always interact and engage with people.

One person, Elizabeth remains eternally grateful to is her uncle, Mr Barkanda whom she calls ‘daddy’ for holding the fort and supporting her to begin formal education even at the later age of 14.

With only a little under two years to complete her 4-year university education, Elizabeth Korkor Offei remains resolute and determined in the face of ridicule from her colleagues and the daunting pressure of juggling work and schooling to achieve what seemed impossible at first- a better life. 

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