ΦKΦ Member Spotlight

Marla Elsea
Aug 25, 2021

Jeanette Yeboah-Amoako was born and raised in Berrien Springs, Michigan, alongside her three older brothers. The first-generation Ghanaian American received a bachelor's degree in political science from Indiana University South Bend. From there, she continued her studies at Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey, where she earned a master's degree in global affairs, followed by a cross-country trek to Fresno for a master's degree in linguistics from California State University where she was initiated into Phi Kappa Phi.

Along the way, Jeanette has been an active volunteer with various agencies and had several of those efforts expand into permanent positions. Her volunteer work at Advocates for Southeast Asians and the Persecuted in Michigan led to a full-time job for more than four years. After helping in classrooms in the Benton Harbor area, she was hired as an educational assistant in a different school district. She currently works as a tutor with Wyzant, but would love a permanent English as a Second Language teaching position at the college level.

In her free time, Jeanette enjoys watching documentaries, wildlife safaris and classic TV shows. She loves eating food from different cultures, journaling, going for long walks, Christian music, and traveling, and has fallen in love with the diversity found since relocating to California.

Let’s get to know Jeanette!

What does Phi Kappa Phi mean to you?
To me, Phi Kappa Phi means excellence. It represents the very best from a wide array of academic disciplines, and I am always proud to show my ties to this organization.

Who inspired you to pursue the career you have today?
My friend and former mentor Ellen was the inspiration for me to pursue a career in teaching ESL. She invited me to volunteer in her elementary ESL classroom over four years ago, and let’s just say that the rest is history.

What book have you recently read and recommend?
I recommend The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot. It tells the largely untold but remarkable story of a young black mother whose cervical cancer cells were taken without the consent of her or her family. Although Henrietta passed away, her cells never died and were used to make colossal gains in medical research that the entire world has benefited from. I liked this book so much that for more than one year, it was the only gift I would buy for others. Although the story is overall very painful to read, as it portrays the downfall of Henrietta’s family after her death and racial injustice in the medical field, it is a very worthwhile read.

What’s the best piece of professional advice you’ve ever received?
As a teacher, you can never over-plan so you should always prepare more material than what you will teach that day.

What skill do you think everyone should learn?
One skill I think everyone should learn is how to type without looking at the keyboard. This is a skill I learned in ninth grade, and it has been a tremendous advantage ever since.

What is your favorite quote?
This is a tough one because I have a lot of favorite quotes and whenever I hear a new one that I like, I jot it down as a memo in my phone. I would say that one of my favorite quotes is “necessity is the mother of invention.” To me, it means that we all have what it takes to be innovative, we just need to be under the right circumstances for this to occur.

What behavior or personality trait do you most attribute your success to?
My tenacity, adaptability and open-mindedness are the traits that I most attribute to my success. These qualities have helped me to take on challenges and to work very hard to prove people wrong who have voiced their doubts about me. It is often said that success is the best revenge; in my experience, that has been true.

Which accomplishment are you most proud of?
I am most proud of graduating summa cum laude from graduate school this past spring. Having a 4.0 GPA was something I had never experienced in higher education, much less maintaining such grades for all three years of my master’s degree program. What made this an even more significant accomplishment was that I struggled academically throughout my undergraduate education, to the point of having to leave college more than once. Thus, to be able to finish at the top of my class for graduate school gave me peace about what I had endured throughout my early years of higher education.

What’s the biggest misconception people have about your career field?
The biggest misconception people have about teaching adults is that it is difficult because they are already set in their ways. I enjoy teaching adults because I have found that adults actually enjoy learning new information.

What is your favorite family tradition?
My favorite family tradition is watching It’s a Wonderful Life with my mom every year on Christmas Eve. This started when I was in high school, and even after I left home, we still call each other on Christmas Eve to make sure the other is watching it. I plan to continue this tradition when I have a family of my own.

To learn more about Jeanette and connect, visit her profile within our online member community, here.

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