In a world that is so driven by the concept of currency, it is not uncommon to lose sight of your passion while chasing dollar signs. It seems as though the older you get, the more you have to put your dreams on hold in order to sustain a decent “adulthood”. However, for Cudjoe Bamfo, this trend does not apply. A recent Virginia Commonwealth University graduate, Bamfo has managed to turn his passion into his career. In the words of the wise, “Choose a job you love and you’ll never have to work a day in your life.” Luckily for Cudjoe Bamfo, working doesn’t seem to be in his future.
Bamfo, an international student hailing from Ghana, describes his life growing up in Accra, the capital city of his native country. “My passion is soccer. It is the number one sport in Ghana so it played a very big role in my life.” Growing up, Bamfo loved playing soccer and even considered pursuing an athletic career. However, his family encouraged him to work hard academically and not put his intelligence to waste. In his community, he faced a lot of pressure to pursue a career in the medical field. To them, money was the motive. To Bamfo, the motive was passion. He knew early on that becoming a doctor wouldn’t be fulfilling, no matter how big his salary would be. Instead, Bamfo decided to get the best of both worlds and pursue a career in physical therapy, where he would still be close to his athletic passion but also chase a more realistic dream and have a secure source of income.
In the spring of 2010, Bamfo began his first semester at VCU. Although he had visited the United States twice before enrolling, the culture shock was still very real. “At first, it was difficult to get used to the American way of life. In Ghana, everyone is more relaxed but in the United States, they are very time-conscious.” As a Health, Physical Education & Exercise Science major, he faced a number of different challenges. Bamfo explains that the hardest part of his undergraduate education was, “just getting there and graduating.” There were many students within his major and a small amount of classes, making it very hard to even register. In fact, this problem delayed his graduation time, causing him to graduate a semester later than he anticipated. As far as academics, Bamfo actually excelled where others struggled. “The academia in Ghana is more rigorous than it is here in the United States, so passing the classes was actually a lot easier for me than for some of my classmates. Being from Ghana was more of an advantage than a disadvantage.”
Although Bamfo had no problem passing his classes, he still felt as though his heart was in the wrong place. It wasn’t until a conversation with Mike Kelo, a local physical therapist, which gave Bamfo the epiphany he needed. “He asked me what my passion was and I said, ‘physical therapy’, and he told me, ‘that’s utter nonsense, what’s your real passion man?’ and I told him, ‘soccer’”. At that very moment, Bamfo realized he needed to fall out of the pressure from the people back home in Ghana and make the best use of his education abroad. Since graduating, Bamfo has decided to take a year off before pursuing his Master’s Degree in Sports Leadership & Management. As a certified fitness specialist and coach, Bamfo says, “My work is my hobby. There are many hours, sometimes without pay, just in pursuit of my passion.”
Bamfo explains the importance of taking risks in order to be successful and hold on to your passion. He believes in finding other people with similar goals to keep you motivated. “Never be afraid to follow or copy a proven formula for success. Find others who are where you want to be and copy that formula.” The other key to success, he explains, is moderation. “It is important to have an outlet; one must venture out and experience different things and meet different people. What good is a 4.0 GPA if you can’t relate to people? I studied, but didn’t study too much. I partied, but didn’t party too much. Most importantly, never lose faith in God and always remember where you came from.” He plans to return to Ghana and “help make things better at home.” Bamfo has many plans for the future, but despite his plans, his passion will allow him to complete every task with a smile. Most importantly, however, Bamfo will never have to work a day in his life.
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