Awo Ashiabor’s Letter to Her 13-year-old Self

Awo Ashiabor received her Bachelor of Science and Master of Engineering degree in Electrical Engineering from MIT. Awo is a native of Ghana and hopes to start a nonprofit to encourage young people there to enter science and engineering fields. She is currently working at and looking forward to the many adventures in the rest of her life.


Dear Awo at 13,

I am proud that you are discussing your professional career at such a young age. Remember however, that you still have some years ahead of you before you matriculate into college. You need not finalize your career choice today. In fact adults re-evaluate and modify their career options all the time. And you will have several opportunities in your life to modify your career too.

Simply follow your interests. The dots will connect organically.

But because all your friends appear to have decided on a career (all of them want to be medical doctors), you feel compelled to make a decision soon. Unlike them, you are unsure of what you want to be in future. Their certainty is in stark contrast with your indecision and that makes you worry. You want to be a medical doctor too. At the same time you are open to electrical engineering, teaching, writing books for children, being a nun, an economist and a diplomat championing African interests.

All these are still possibilities. I would advise that you continue to pursue the subjects that interest you. Do not be overly concerned about selecting classes that will land you the medical career or the job as a nun or the job as a diplomat. That is a tall order. Simply follow your interests. The dots will connect organically. You love math, the sciences, languages, art. Math and science alone lead to many career opportunities. I have met trained actuarists (math experts that help insurance companies with calculations) who are practicing as medical doctors now. There is computer engineer who founded and manages a university. The possibilities are endless.

Awo, let’s take a day at a time. Enjoy your class on nuclear chemistry tomorrow. Don’t blow the lab up!


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