Carl H. Lindner College of BusinessCarl H. Lindner College of BusinessUniversity of Cincinnati

Carl H. Lindner College of Business
Sally Amkoa

Designing Her Dream

Economics major aspires to help developing countries with sustainable development.

Growing up in Nairobi, Kenya, Sally Amkoa often had to share a bedroom with two siblings, a nephew and other relatives.

“My lack of personal space inspired me to dream,” Amkoa, BA ’15, says.

She imagined someday traveling abroad and studying to become an economic consultant to help governments of developing countries. As an economics major in the Carl H. Lindner College of Business, she’s well on her way to realizing her dreams.

“I grew up on a beautiful continent that has one of the richest resource pools in the world, yet it has one of the poorest populations,” she says. “I believe this inconsistency is caused by poor economic planning that leads to governments implementing unsustainable economic policies. My goal is to work with the governments of individual countries to come up with sustainable development strategies that will utilize the resources available to the countries while minimizing reliance on foreign aid.”

A native of Nairobi, an Eastern African city, Amkoa’s cultural roots have been the impetus of her educational goals. She wrote about these ambitions in an essay that won her second place and $2,500 in the 2012 International Scholarship Competition from Connect-123, a non-profit organization that arranges international internships, volunteer and study abroad programs. Her entry was among 185 submissions from 34 countries.

The scholarship will be used to pay program fees and travel costs for an internship or volunteer opportunity in one of five destinations: Barcelona, Spain; Buenos Aires, Argentina; Cape Town, South Africa, Shanghai, China, or Dublin, Ireland.

She learned about the Connect-123 scholarship through weekly updates from UC’s International Programs, where she serves as a student worker.

“Most of the opportunities announced are usually restricted to U.S. citizens,” she says. “So when an opportunity that I was eligible for came along, I jumped at it.”

Amkoa has earned a variety of scholarships; the most important is the one that brought her to study at UC. The Zawadi Scholarship Fund, is a Kenyan-based non-profit organization that secures scholarships for academically gifted African girls from disadvantaged backgrounds to enable them to pursue a higher education in the U.S.

Securing the scholarship moved her closer to her dream.

“This scholarship, I hoped, would be the beginning of my travel adventures,” she says in her essay.

She received a solid start on her study abroad experiences in the Lindner College of Business. As a Marvin P. Kolodzik Business Scholar and Business Fellow, Amkoa became enamored with international studies after a March 2012 study abroad experience in Costa Rica.

“It was so amazing; I wanted to study abroad again,” says Amkoa, who speaks English, Swahili and is learning Spanish.

Her UC activities are centered on academic achievement, international service and leadership.

With a GPA of 3.98, she’s an academic standout. Amkoa is a member of the Lindner College of Business Dean’s List, University Honors Program and the Alpha Lambda Delta Honor Society.

Those who have come to know Amkoa say she has a natural ability to connect with people and that her devotion, leadership and passion for excellence is a constant, says LaDreka Karikari, Business Fellows co-director and assistant director of undergraduate enrollment.

“Her energy and enthusiasm for attaining higher education is contagious; she motivates everyone around her to work harder,” Karikari says.

Her keen interest in international affairs keeps her involved in global organizations. She serves as head of international affairs at UC’s ADVANCE program, a unique African-American student organization that aids students in making the transition from college to career.  She was a UC delegate to the Global Studies Conference at the University of Nebraska in 2011 and serves as treasurer of UC’s College Mentors for Kids, managing budgets and reimbursements.

Amkoa maintains strong ties to home, where her family still resides. She continues to serve as an ambassador for Hands for Children International in Nairobi, a non-profit international organization that strives to improve the lives of children, as well as their mothers. She also participates in the African Leaders Project (ALP), an undertaking of the African Leadership Academy in South Africa whose mission is to capture stories and initiatives of Africa’s most promising young leaders to figure out their successful ingredients and use them to transform lives in Africa.

“ALP intends to track my progress and the factors that contribute to my achievements over the next 50 years,” she says. 

Here at UC, she’s made a lot of progress, inching ever closer to making her dream a reality.

“When I got to the USA, I learned that if I did what I absolutely loved and did it well, then that in itself was success,” she says.