Michelle Amoah - Strathclyde University
Make Your Mark Ambassador
Michelle’s journey to university has not been easy. Moving to Glasgow from Ghana at age 17, she hadn’t been in the country long enough to secure the necessary qualifications to study her long-standing interest in medicine. Yet this determined young woman refused to be deterred.
Securing a Robertson Trust scholarship to attend the University of Strathclyde, she’s studying biomedical science – a route that’s building the foundation for her to discover how the human body works.
Now in her second year, both of which have taken place during the pandemic, Michelle’s appreciating two things. The first is that biomedical science doesn’t just open a pathway to medicine but into a variety of other disciplines and possible career options, such as into haematology, clinical sciences, or even research into disease. And second, that it’s her hard work, resilience and love of learning that is propelling her forwards - a message she’s keen to share with other young people.
“When I came here from Ghana there were so many things that I didn’t know, still don’t know. But my determination and thirst to learn has opened possibilities that I’ve been privileged to immerse myself in.”
One of those opportunities was securing a free-to-attend place on the Make Your Mark for students coaching programme.
“I want to build my confidence because, in addition to a science-led career, I’d also love to be a motivational speaker. I want to use my experiences and my abilities to motivate others to achieve their goals.”
Michelle shares her name with her motivational speaking hero ‘Michelle’ Obama.
“I find her and her story a source of inspiration. I admire her zeal to rise as a black woman and to educate others to see that they don’t have to stay where they are, that they have the potential to become whatever they want. I’m drawn to the way she speaks, she inspires me to become better and to want to inspire that in others myself through motivational speaking.”
Michelle says she found the Make Your Mark programme most helpful in pursuing that ambition, with the highlight for her discovering that building speaking confidence begins in the mind.
“It’s a matter of mindset. If you get that right, then everything else falls into place – your confidence, your actions, your speech. This programme is an opportunity to learn, relearn and unlearn with an inspirational coach, because Susan really is inspirational – her confidence, her presence, her voice. She has such a wealth of experience and there was a lot for me to learn.”
For Michelle that was everything from
challenging her domineering inner critic – one that frequently tells her she doesn’t have enough experience so isn’t good enough to do something, to
taming her emotional reactions in difficult situations, or
breathing better to enhance her voice in her quest to becoming a motivational speaker.
“Last week I gave a presentation. I was practising deep breathing exercises just beforehand to calm myself. I’d taken the time to rehearse, which elevated my confidence. Then, while presenting, I took my time to get my posture right, to make eye contact and to speak slowly. It felt good.”
Yet Michelle knows there’s still much more to learn, which is partly why upon completing the programme she wanted to become a Make Your Mark Ambassador.
“The Make Your Mark coaching programme isn’t something you can do and then just leave behind. You want to learn more. I knew this learning was something I’d want to do for the rest of my life. Becoming an Ambassador is an opportunity for me to step out of my comfort zone and take my learning to the next phase – to continue to build, practice and integrate it into my daily life.”
But being an Ambassador is also an opportunity for Michelle to spread the word about the benefits of coaching.
“Coaching can benefit everyone, but not everyone gets the opportunity. I want to help extend that opportunity so more young people can experience it and make the most of it. Coaching propels you to think and the Make Your Mark programme is insightful, educational and informative. It offers an experience to reflect on what you have already and how you want to improve. That’s the real value of this coaching - the self-awareness it offers.”
Michelle Amoah is in the second of her four-year Biomedical Science degree at The University of Strathclyde, after which she plans to undertake a Master’s in Prescribing. She lives with her family in Glasgow and is a Robertson Trust scholar – a programme offering self-development opportunities and financial support to young people in Scotland facing barriers to higher education.
Michelle attended Winter School 2022 and became a Make Your Mark Ambassador shortly after. She is grateful to both Susan and her mentor, Juniper Trust Managing Director, Mary Duffy, for the opportunity to participate in the Make Your Mark programme.