Board Student Scholar Embraces New Challenges
Aba Paintsil brings a unique perspective to her new position
Five years ago, Aba Paintsil was working in furniture sales in South Africa. And she was good at it.
“I was the first Black female to earn my company more than $1 million in sales revenue,” she said.
The Ghanaian native had moved to South Africa in 2000, earned a degree from Durban University of Technology and was active in her church and community, on top of her successful sales career. Yet, in January 2017, she gave it all up to move to the United States, settle in the Cleveland area and pursue a nursing degree at Cuyahoga Community College (Tri-C®).
Why? “I like new challenges, and I like helping people,” she said. “I’m a big believer in the saying, ‘Nobody ever died from hard work.’”
It’s why Aba was selected to serve as Tri-C’s Board Student Scholar for the 2020-2021 academic year. The Board Student Scholar serves as a bridge between the College’s student body and Board of Trustees.
"A big reason I got into nursing was my desire to help people," Aba said. "I felt this was another way I could serve others — by giving our students a voice in the College and bringing another perspective to this position.”
Attention to detail
Upon enrolling in Tri-C’s nursing program, Aba was impressed by its emphasis on attention to detail. The program has taught her how to use critical thinking to interpret a patient’s condition, from medical charts to nonverbal cues and surrounding conditions.
“I am not just treating symptoms,” she said. “I need to read beyond the diagnosis and examine the patient as a whole, with everything going on around them.”
In summer 2018, an internship in the Eastern Campus president’s office enhanced Aba’s ability to identify students’ needs beyond words.
“Students would often come in looking for assistance, and I discovered a lot of them didn’t know the resources available to them or how to use them,” she said.
Aba has never been afraid to ask questions or get involved. On top of her internship and a two-year stint as an Eastern Campus student assistant, she is a member of the Multicultural Club, E4 Student Wellness Support Group and Phi Theta Kappa, as well as an alumna of the Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel Scholars Academy.
It all adds up to an extensive knowledge of campus resources and a desire to connect her fellow students with those resources.
“Because I always embrace challenges and look to find a better way, I started wondering if there was a more prominent platform where I could be that voice for students,” she said. “That’s what really started me thinking about becoming the Board Student Scholar.”
The coming year
The biggest issue facing Aba at the outset of her tenure is the COVID-19 pandemic and the impact it is having on the Tri-C student body. She is entering a fall semester in which the majority of classes will take place online.
It will test her leadership and communication skills from the very start.
“It’s challenging because before COVID-19, I had a lot of ideas about initiatives and programs to engage students on campus,” she said. “But virtual learning will change my approach to those ideas. The ways around it will require a lot of teamwork, reaching out to other people on the campuses and figuring out new ways to fulfill my role. Communication is key, now more than ever.”
During the pandemic, with students struggling to overcome financial and access barriers to continue their education, Aba believes the combination of compassion and problem-solving skills required to be a nurse makes her the right person to serve as Board Student Scholar.
“This environment is creating more hardship for a lot of our students,” she said. “And as a nurse, I aim to lessen pain in all forms — physically, emotionally and psychologically.”
Aba, who already holds two degrees from Tri-C, aims to graduate in May 2021 with an Associate of Applied Science degree in nursing. After graduating, she plans to attend Cleveland State University to earn bachelor’s degrees in nursing and organizational leadership. But before she leaves Tri-C, she knows she has an opportunity to leave a lasting imprint.
It comes down to a willingness to take chances and believe in new beginnings, which Aba has done her entire life — moving long distances to follow her dreams. Now, she wants to inspire others to do the same.
“I believe you shouldn’t simply come to Tri-C to earn a degree. You should also connect and engage with the resources and support that the College offers to succeed in life,” she said.
“I want to help other students realize that there are so many opportunities available — they just need to take advantage of them.”
July 30, 2020
Erik Cassano, 216-987-3577 or firstname.lastname@example.org