Carnegie Mellon University

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March 05, 2024

Pursuing and Imparting Knowledge

By Giordana Verrengia

It’s easy to understand what motivates Carnegie Mellon University Africa alumna Gifty Buah to embrace the roles of lecturer, Ph.D. student, and interviewer simultaneously. 

"I would describe myself as a curious person because I think that’s what has led me to many of the things that I have done so far," she says. "I’m just curious about knowledge. I get thrilled when I learn something new."

Since graduating in 2018 with an advanced degree in electrical and computer engineering, Buah’s career path has been shaped by this insatiable hunger for knowledge. After completing her master’s program, she returned to CMU-Africa as a teaching assistant for a course on linear circuits. With a lighter schedule, Buah had time to explore her entrepreneurial spirit. Her first business was in e-commerce with a focus on distributing items like jewelry, hair products, and cosmetic goods. This project taught her the importance of scaling business operations and pooling resources from a robust network of professionals like the ones who provided her with products. 

By the fall of 2019, Buah was settled back in her home country, preparing for her first semester as a lecturer at the University of Ghana. She saw her new circumstances as an immense opportunity. She also felt a lot of responsibility in this role, as she was the first female faculty member in the university’s computer engineering department.

"I got to research, teach other young people, and hopefully inspire them," Buah says. "Especially the ladies, because there are very few ladies taking computer engineering at the University of Ghana."

While she’s embraced the opportunity to impart knowledge on others, Gifty is still devoting time to expanding her own mind. One way she does this is with a series called The Gifty O. Conversations, which she started as a way to host meaningful and informative exchanges with guests from various careers, including health, technology, and business. Her goal is that every single person can take away something valuable from these conversations, most of all Buah herself. 

The learning continues in another respect: Buah is currently pursuing her Ph.D. at the University of Ghana, so within a single institution, she is both an instructor and a student. Her intention is to work on the intersection of AI and healthcare in Africa, an area she’s already contributed to with the creation of a software called Progpharma Digital, which allows customers to search for medicine availability in pharmacies around Ghana’s capital, Accra.

"I am looking forward to integrating AI features into the platform, especially to help patients with chronic diseases that require constant medication and information."

And, as someone who thrives on inspiration, what advice does she have for potential students wondering how to make their mark on the world? 

"Well, first things first, choose CMU," says Buah. "Make good use of every opportunity and also have a plan. Things will not go 100 percent according to plan, but once you veer off, you can get yourself back on track. As the saying goes at CMU, your heart must be in the work."