By Felicity Bosk
Dr. Ephraim Nikoi considers himself a man of three jobs, but really he does so much more. “I wear so many hats.” He teaches classes both on campus and online. He is a member of the faculty senate, he is the coordinator of the Global Awareness & Inclusivity Community of Practice, co adviser for the Black Student Union, adviser of the Soccer Club, and coach of the Tennis Club. Besides these things, he also conducts research, presents at and attends conferences, and works with colleagues to encourage knowledge in the field of communicating arts.
“I like people to be at their best. The opportunity to be the best they can be is what really motivates me. To see my students improve, get an education, and be excited about learning new things—those are the key things that motivate me. I have a mixture of students; traditional and nontraditional. I get a lot of nontraditional students in distance learning. Lots of distance learners are coming back to school. It has always peaked my interests with how excited they are to come back and excited to learn new things. What motivates me is my students and commitment to education.”
Nikoi was born and raised in Ghana’s capital, Accra. He loves the ocean—the Lake "doesn’t cut it for him." As kids, he and his friends would catch fish in the lagoon and host a feast with all their families. “I miss family. All my family, mom and siblings, are back home. I miss the vibrancy of the community. If you travel to Ghana you’ll see all the energy and noise and music—I miss that.”
One difference he has noticed in the U.S., besides the food and weather, is that our community is much more closed. Where he grew up, a child is everybody’s child. In Superior, Nikoi doesn’t even know the names of his neighbors.
“I grew up at a time Ghana was going through of of political upheavals. Ghana is really a peaceful and democratic country now. My primary school was located in the military barracks in the city, and during those revolutionary years as a student in that school we always got caught in crossfire, so we had a few instances when we had to close school early and take the back roads home to avoid clashes with anybody. We had instances where we had to go under our desks and just because of gun shots. All during my elementary school years, which is profound because those are formative years. Those revolutionary times created a very stable and democratic country which is really great to see.”
He attended middle school and high school at boarding schools in northern parts of Ghana. There, he was able to make friends and connections from people of all ethnic backgrounds, and he is still friends with many of them today. Ghanaian’s are required to do one year of national service after school. Nikoi did his service as a teaching assistant, which is where he first gained an interest in teaching.
In 1998 he began attending Ohio University for his graduate degree. When he was close to finishing his PhD, he saw a position teaching communicating arts at UWS advertised. “I applied, and fortunately, I was hired. That was six years ago,” he said.
When asked how to adjusted from moving from one hemisphere to another, he said “We are becoming increasingly globalized, if we live in a globalized world, you should be able to make a home out of wherever you find yourself. I think that is one of the key thing we as human beings should be working on. Not that I don’t miss my home, but as a global citizen I need to adopt and integrate myself into the culture, I make the best out of both.”