By Sean Savage
Springfield College draws students from near and far, each with their own story.
One student, however, came much farther than your typical few-hour car ride. He comes from a whopping 5,000 miles away.
His story is far from typical. The Ghana native was classified himself as an outcast in his early days – he never had a real home and had a three-year span that put his education on hold.
Springfield College’s Eben Frimpong still manages to persevere in the game of life. To him, he claims life is easy despite persistent adversity. How could this be?
A glimpse of his early days provides the answer.
Born in Ashante, Ghana, Frimpong always had a nose for learning. “Ever since I could remember, I would always ask questions and want to learn,” he said.
Frimpong’s curiosity continued to grow as he did. This came in handy as his family was constantly on the move.
Through his adolescence, his family moved countless times, more than he could remember. His father, Daniel, was a pastor so they never had a chance to settle into one home. They would be on the move every couple of months, always staying within different regions of Ghana
Because of this, Frimpong constantly had to adjust socially to the new environment, people, and school system.
“The problem was when we moved, other students would already be ahead in what they learned. So I would have to play catch up constantly, and by that time, we would be on the move again,” Frimpong said.
But, Frimpong took this as an opportunity to become more independent early on. “I would teach myself most things; I never really had a role model,” he said. “I adapted and became a visual learner.”
However, the streets are filled with joyous people who are outgoing in all that they do. Everywhere they went, Frimpong and his family found a tight-knit community.
By the time he reached middle school, he had discovered technology – computers, to be specific.
“Being from Ghana, we did not have anything like this. So as soon as I saw computers, I knew I was interested in learning more,” he said. Nevertheless, there was a catch for Frimpong: the school only had two computers restricted to school use.
Just as Frimpong discovered his newfound passion, his family took in one of their cousins, Bright, to live with them.
Bright brought the light to a hard situation for Frimpong.
Bright knew how to navigate technology and computers, so they had an interest they explored together. Between constantly moving and dealing with losing a family member, Frimpong learned he would have to accept discomfort to continue pursuing his passion.
For the following months, Bright and Frimpong would sneak out of their home after being put to bed.
Each night, a sense of unease crept over their bodies as they snuck out of the house – with each step, tensions were high. They needed to make sure nobody knew.
And they did.
So, where would they go? Straight to the computers.
“Nobody would know we were sneaking out and where we were going,” Frimpong said. “I just wanted to learn more about computers, and Bright would show me all that he knew.”
Eventually, Frimpong stumbled upon a teacher who also knew a lot about computers. Frimpong was so keen on expanding his knowledge that he frequently walked to his professor’s house.
There was one problem. The house was a 30-minute walk. The walk was also a shot in the dark; half of the time, the professor would not be there. So Frimpong would sit and wait – and keep waiting– until he arrived.
However, Frimpong’s habit of following his passion wherever it took him soon came to an end.
Daniel had caught him one night. However, he was not mad, rather confused. Daniel said something along the lines of: “Eben, why are you trying to learn about computers? We do not have the fortune of having them. You will not be able to make a living out of this.”
Even after this conversation, Frimpong never gave up. Instead, he continued to expand his knowledge throughout high school.
Another conversation came up with Daniel. Although this time, there was a different tone to the talk. Daniel wanted to send Frimpong to the United States, so he could make a living pursuing what he loved.
Frimpong became the first of his family to venture into the United States for his education.
Springfield College was the only school on his radar, so the decision of where to go was not too burdensome. “Springfield has a center in Ghana. They came to the school and announced opportunities,” Frimpong said. It turns out that Springfield has a group stationed near Ghana to recruit international students.
Frimpong was overwhelmed with excitement. Everything was seemingly coming together – he was seeing his persistence really start to pay off.
But, right as his excitement hit its peak, so did COVID. The pandemic caused Ghana to practically shut down.
Suddenly, a warm, buzzing environment transformed into the dull nights where Frimpong was venturing on his own. The streets were now empty, everyone was isolated, and all of Frimpong’s work spiraled in the other direction – pinning him to a ground at a standstill.
“All of my classmates were already in college,” Frimpong said. “It was hard seeing them continue their education while I could not do anything. I became really sad.”
Night after night, Frimpong was slowly slipping away being stuck at home.
Days turned into months, and eventually a year. Frimpong was still isolated due to the pandemic. But, right as the community started to recoup, so did he.
Frimpong enrolled in Valley View University – a system made for students who were eventually going to head to the states for their collegiate career.
Frimpong stayed at the university for a year, and then was ready to head to Springfield College for his sophomore year in 2022.
Leaving home was surprisingly easy for Frimpong: “I feel like Ghana prepared me well… I was always on the move, and I think school was harder there,” he said.
Naturally, Frimpong decided to major in computer information and sciences at Springfield.
“I love the community Springfield has,” Frimpong said. “The classrooms are small, so it is nice. It helps as I am a visual learner, and you can make relationships with the professors.”
Not only does he have a great fondness for the school’s community, but his peers share that same view. One of his floormates in International Hall, Carson Griffin, observed his outgoing personality.
“I have never gotten the chance to become friends with him, but he seems like a very charismatic person. He is one of those people where you can just tell they are fun to be around,” Griffin said.
Outside of academics, Frimpong works at the dining hall. However, it is not for the reason one may presume.
“I just do it so I can continue to push myself,” Frimpong said. He is the first of the family to study in the United States, so he wants to do the best he can.
His friend and roommate, Hikmat, also noted Frimpomg’s work ethic. “He is always working,” he said. “But, the best part is, he is always smiling. He is one of the most hard-working guys I have met.”
As for Frimpong, after graduating college he plans on starting his own computer business. However, he plans on returning home once he graduates.
“I want to go back to where I am from and show everyone what I have learned,” Frimpong said. “Ghana does not still have much technology and computers, and I want to change that.”
Photo: Eben Frimpong