News & Announcements

Social work student knows the value of education

Feb. 28, 2024

Once he finishes his Ph.D. in social work, Douglas Odongo (right) hopes to become a professor at a research institution. He eventually would like to take his talents back to Ghana and share what he has learned with others.

Douglas Odongo is a doctoral student studying Social Work. As a Ghanaian, education is everything.

His father encouraged him and his siblings to reach for the stars when it came to education. After his father passed away in 2015, he knew he needed to continue in his honor.  

Pursuing a master’s degree wasn’t enough. Once he told his siblings that he wanted to pursue a Ph.D., they made arrangements to make it happen.  

A friend recommended the University of Missouri, and Odongo never looked back.  

Getting involved 

Odongo didn’t just want a degree. He wanted to make an impact. When a friend recommended he participate in Graduate Scholars of Excellence (GSE), a program that offers engagement opportunities, provides personal, academic, cultural, social professional and leadership support, and gives GSE Scholars the opportunity to mentor and guide current and prospective undergraduate students, he was instantly interested.  

“I realized I made it here because I had a mentor back in Ghana,” he said. “Having a mentor in your life really helps. So, if I have the opportunity to invest in someone else, that would be great.” 

In Ghana, Odongo had the opportunity to mentor students. Here it was in a different context, but still an amazing experience for him. 

“Through GSE, I went to a Southern Region Education Board (SREB) conference in Atlanta,” he said. “That was my first time traveling outside of Mizzou. GSE has provided me with opportunities to mentor people, but it has invested in me as well.” 

Looking back, he recalled being anxious when he was first recruited for the program. “I didn’t know what was going to happen,” he said.  

When he experienced challenges in his studies he realized “IDE wasn’t just a division, but it was a family.” He was connected to resources to help him be successful. 

Continue reading on the Division of Inclusion, Diversity & Equity.