Graduate Profile: Kelvin Kwaku Boakye

Kelvin Kwaku Boakye discovers his passion and steps out of comfort zone through the Kessler Scholars at Syracuse University


Kelvin Kwaku Boakye was part of the inaugural cohort of Kessler Scholars at Syracuse University.

What does the Kessler Scholars Program mean to you?

In high school, I received a letter that said I’d been selected to be a Kessler Scholar. There was nothing on the Syracuse University website yet about being Kessler Scholars because we were the inaugural class. My first encounter with Kessler was the summer before my freshman year and the cohort all met each other online. I was nervous going into college. When we had that first Zoom [meeting], it made it all a little bit easier. Then, when we had our first group meeting after school started, I remember being really excited because it was nice having a community, being able to say, “oh, I know her” or “I know him.” My best friend right now, I met her at that first Zoom. She’s from Ghana like me, and she’s studying public health. What are the odds?

What challenges have you faced throughout college, and how have you overcome them?

I’m such a different person than I used to be. I was always super nervous. Freshman year was during the height of the pandemic, so there were no clubs, no organizations, no events that you could go to. Everything was online. I feel like sophomore year was my second freshman year, but I was even more nervous because everything and I felt like, where did people get all these friends from? People were starting to join clubs, and I was just sitting in my room—a single—feeling like I didn’t know what to do. I overcame it by putting myself out there. I joined the step team, and I started going out more to events. But, at the end of sophomore year, I realized I was doing a lot. I had an awakening and asked myself, “do I like what I’m doing?” Now as a senior, I can say that every single thing that I’m doing, I enjoy. I’m the vice president for step. I’m on the African Student Union as a Student Liaison. I joined the Kessler Student Advisory Board last year. I work at the Barnes Center, Syracuse’s center for student wellness, as a Peer Educator, and I do research. Now I’m very comfortable with everything that I’m doing.

What are you looking forward to doing personally or professionally after graduation?

I’m really passionate about sexual health and LGBTQ+ health. I used to be pre-med until I realized I didn’t like needles or blood. But, I liked the education aspect of health. I’m really interested in HIV awareness and prevention. After college, I’m going to get my Masters in Public Health. I’m actively applying for MPH programs that start in Fall 2024. My big dream is to build an HIV clinic. I want to employ doctors and nurses, but I also want to have HIV educators on staff to build programming, like after school programs. Education and awareness is so important, especially for black boys who identify as LGBTQ+. We just don’t learn enough and that’s the problem. 

After graduation, I also really want to celebrate. Because of the pandemic, I didn’t have a prom, and I didn’t have a high school graduation, so my college graduation means a lot. I’m graduating college!

What advice do you have for future Kessler Scholars?

Do everything that you think you want to do. Just try it. It’s better to say “that didn’t work out” than to think “what if?” I don’t have any regrets. I tried things. Some worked, some didn’t. 

Also, go abroad. The Kessler Scholars Program at Syracuse funded my study abroad in Madrid, Spain this past summer, and I had so much fun. I lived in a hotel with other study abroad students from other countries. Everything was close and accessible. I really did enjoy my time there, and I learned so much about myself in Spain. My junior year was hard. So, I took time that summer abroad to learn who I was. In Madrid, I liked that there were a lot of themed villages. One town was African with African food and shops. There was a whole LGBTQ+ district and it was so welcoming. I really do recommend the experience of going abroad and specifically going to Madrid. I would go back.

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