Graduating senior Beatrice Nyantakyi does double duty
Graduating senior Beatrice Nyantakyi remembers simply 'loving the interaction' she had with new FDU students at orientation. Here, she poses with the orientation group she led in 2012. (Photos courtesy of Beatrice Nyantakyi)
By Kenna Caprio
Beatrice Nyantakyi of Newark, N.J. lives a life of dualities. During her Fairleigh Dickinson University days, she has experienced both resident and commuter living and embraced her African roots and American life.
The 21-year-old grew up in Ghana, immigrating to the United States with her family — she’s the eldest of five children — nearly 11 years ago. The psychology major came to the Metropolitan Campus as a shy person, but leaves feeling empowered after joining student organizations and taking on leadership roles.
“I’ve grown as an individual. With these positions on campus, I have responsibilities to uphold to make sure things go right. That’s strengthened me,” Nyantakyi says.
Her positive freshman orientation experience pushed her to become an orientation leader. “It was a life-changing moment, facilitating orientation. That was the best.”
Acting as a guide to anything and everything FDU, Nyantakyi and her co-orientation leaders gave campus tours, offered roommate advice and encouraged campus involvement. “Living on campus,” she says, “exposes you to what’s happening.” But commuter students, she contends, figure out time management and how to cope with the workload, sooner.
With experience as a student ambassador, resident assistant and student worker for the Office of Human Resources, the Dickinson Hall Business Library and currently, in the Office of the Dean of Students, Nyantakyi learned how to facilitate student requests and conduct herself professionally.
“Now I can work with professionals and deal with conflicts,” Nyantakyi says. “Stay calm if you get flustered. Write down priorities so you follow through and get everything done, instead of panicking and getting nothing done.”
Moving to America as a child “made it easier to interact with other students and share differences and learn similarities between cultures” at college, she says. As vice president of the African Heritage Society, which works to abate African stereotypes by raising “awareness of African culture, society, people and places,” she ran a campus event on waist beads, and what they represent to various cultures — wearing the beads is often considered a female rite of passage.
“The bonds I’ve built here are extraordinary,” Nyantakyi says. “Getting involved, that’s what builds you as an individual.”
Originally, Nyantakyi intended to study nursing but switched her major junior year to psychology. Volunteer stints at local hospitals, Holy Name Medical Center in Teaneck, N.J. and St. Michael’s in Newark, led her to realize that she wanted to provide a different kind of comfort and care.
“You can talk to the individual and see what best fits or what other assessments we can do, instead of jumping to medication. Some people, all they need to do is talk and have somebody listen to them in order to be okay.”
Nyantakyi received the Martin Luther King, Jr. award from the Metropolitan Campus Office of Student Life in 2014. The Award honors staff, faculty, and students who embody the values represented by Martin Luther King. Jr. and have made significant contributions to FDU.
Before she starts working on her graduate degree in school psychology at FDU, she’ll spend her summer as a NODA intern, learning about “orientation, transition and retention in higher education.” In the fall, she’ll work as a graduate assistant in the Office of the Dean of Students.
“Someone told me, ‘graduation is not for you; it’s for your parents.’ And it’s true. They’re more excited for this day to come than me. Family from everywhere want to come, so I have to make extra copies of the announcement,” Nyantakyi says.“I want to be able one day to look back and say, ‘Wow. This is what I was able to accomplish.’ I’m looking back now, and I did a lot, but there’s more I would love to do. My dream is to continue to put smiles on people’s faces by empowering them to reach their highest capabilities.”