Dr. Ampofo Darko
Alumnus – PhD
Department of Chemistry
University of Florida
Prof. Darko is currently an Assistant Professor in the Department of Chemistry at the University of Tennessee Knoxville
What motivated you to excel at UF?
A combination of family, mentors, other graduate student colleagues provided a close-knit and supportive environment where I was encouraged to explore creative ways to solve the problems I encountered in research. During graduate school at UF, I was most motivated by my wife and two children who sacrificed to support my pursuit of a Ph.D. Because of them, I was driven to make their sacrifice worthwhile by working hard to succeed in obtaining PhD.
What does community mean to you?
To me, community means having a support system to help navigate challenges, commiserate, and share success stories. Curating a supportive community has been vital to my academic career. There were times mentors and advisors in my community circle saw potential in me that I did not recognize. Without that source of advice, I may not have pursued my current path. I have recognized too, that having multiple support communities is important. For example, I am part of networks of research communities and groups that focus on navigating the academic landscape as a Black professor in a STEM field.
How have Black role models inspired you?
My biggest inspiration was my mother, Prof. Eva Tagoe-Darko, who completed her Ph.D. with three kids in tow at an Ivy League institution. Her success under the circumstances she faced inspired me to pursue my advanced degree. She continues to be a source of encouragement and is my most energetic supporter. I have also been fortunate to interact with a number of talented Black scientists who have inspired me by reaching a high level of scholarship while advocating for diversity and inclusion in the sciences.
How was your background shaped your experiences?
My background has been important to how I interact with colleagues and mentor students. Originally from Ghana, I have experienced the issues that international students may face in graduate school, and my experience has helped me to relate on a more personal level to students of diverse backgrounds. I am also the product of a Quaker education and philosophy, in which one of the values is the equal worth of all individuals. I try to live out this particular Quaker value in all my interactions and it has resulted in many meaningful relationships.