Nancy Kankam is a 2017 NELGA-DAAD scholarship holder at Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST). She shares her story on how NELGA support amplified her career goals
“Growing up with four sisters, I had a strong desire to be great in the future”, Nancy recalls, though she wasn’t sure what that entailed. However, she did know that education was the way to greatness, so she took it very seriously. Fortunately, her family also valued education and provided her with the best opportunities possible from elementary to secondary school.
After completing high school, Nancy was unsure what career path she wanted to take. The only thing she was certain of was her aptitude for numbers, which made her want to pursue a degree in business management. However, she had no idea that a watershed moment was on the horizon when she was admitted to Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology’s (KNUST) Department of Planning to pursue a Bachelors of Science (BSc) in Human Settlement Planning. In her first semester of study, Nancy had a moment of regret for taking up the course. This changed during her second semester when she found herself thriving and enjoying her academic programme, especially as the programme exposed her to the design and application of solutions to society’s wicked problems.
After her graduation in 2016, she was awarded a DAAD scholarship through the NELGA programme to further her studies towards an MPhil Planning academic program at KNUST in 2017. She said, “My experience with DAAD and NELGA was fantastic, with ceaseless imprints in my professional life. I had the opportunity to attend the Land Governance Conference in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, and to conduct research for five months at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) in Munich, Germany. The research with TUM on “discourse on Women and Land Tenure in Ghana: Does a Matrilineal Land Tenure System Make a Difference for Women?” 11was recently published as a book chapter in Land Governance and Gender publication. Thanks to the DAAD – NELGA scholarship, I broadened my network and improved my knowledge and skills, particularly in research. “
As she relishes her experience, she also shares how this opportunity has impacted her career, “My bachelor’s degree in Human Settlement Planning, followed by a master’s degree in MPhil planning, formed the basis of my career in the development sector. They provided the foundation for me to conceptualize, design, initiate, implement, and share knowledge, actions, and policy recommendations for sustainable development in West Africa and Africa as a whole. Particularly, the opportunity provided by the DAAD – NELGA scholarship exposed me to topical global and regional issues in the development field and seasoned practitioners and researchers in the field. These experiences have shaped my perspectives and practice.”
Since graduating, Nancy has been working in the non-profit sector. She is keen on promoting research-policy linkages towards solving development problems. She applied lessons from the NELGA-DAAD program in the real-time post-graduation settings. In January 2022, she organized a brainstorm session among land stakeholders and DAAD alumni in Ghana to connect and communicate research to practice through a grant she had applied and secured through DAAD. Nancy hopes to continue working in the development trajectory and be an influencer for a safe, inclusive, and sustainable society.