Can’t find your library card? What if you couldn’t find a library? At age 16, Samantha Boateng committed to building a hub of literacy in her mother’s country of origin… literally. The high school senior has physically constructed a library in Ghana from the ground up, filled with more than 14,000 books and computers, for children who before were lucky to have access to only a book or two. She’s a hero to more than 20,000 students… and to all of us collegiettes.
Name: Samantha Boateng
College: College of William and Mary
Majors: Government and Computer Science
Graduation Year: 2020
Instagram Handle: @SamanthaBoateng
Her Campus: What do you consider your greatest achievement to date?
Samantha Boateng: My greatest achievement to date is being able to build a library in Ghana. Read 2 Lead was founded with the mission to encourage a love of reading. The work towards accomplishing this mission began in Accra, Ghana these past few years. I received so much support for my project that I was able to raise more than 14,000 books and 22 computers through donations and I was able to have the library built from the foundation up. This library is directly available to more than 20,000 students in the community and is also open to anyone who just wants to read. I never expected the project to reach this level, but I am so glad at how far I’ve come these years. It has taken countless hours of persistence and dedication, but now I am glad to see the end result, as the library was officially commissioned this summer, and the impact it is making in the community.
HC: What was the hardest part of founding Read 2 Lead?
SB: The hardest part about founding Read 2 Lead was definitely remaining consistent. In the beginning, I expected to just collect a few books easily and ship them over, but the project became larger than I ever imagined. There was a lot of background work that not very many people saw that went into the project, such as physically carrying boxes of books from various locations into my garage, making phone calls and sending emails, and generally a lot of infrastructural planning. It all was extraordinarily stressful also due to the fact that I was in my senior year of high school, so I had to complete college applications and apply to scholarships as well as work on this library project. Eventually, with support from my community, I was able to find a better balance between school and this project, and I was also able to work collaboratively with many others.
HC: Why has your participation with Read 2 Lead been so instrumental in your life?
SB: My participation in Read 2 Lead has been so instrumental in my life because I have learned so much throughout the process. Throughout my life, I have been blessed enough to live well and without very many worries, and in this project I began to realize how much more I could help others in the world around me. Read 2 Lead has definitely changed me to become more compassionate and aware of the suffering and poverty of others and how I can change the world with a single action. I have grown up so much through the process and I have definitely found my calling in helping others. I have also found a new passion for changing the world in my own little ways and encouraging others to do the same in their own ways.
HC: Who in your life most inspires you?
SB: My mother inspires me the most to work hard to achieve my dreams. She has been through so much in her life, from having a child as a teenager to being an immigrant from Ghana to the United States, and she has come out from everything stronger and wiser than ever before. I was inspired to start Read 2 Lead by seeing the work she had done in Ghana by teaching students, nurses, hotel workers and more, while also public speaking and giving her time and energy to support children in hospitals and men and women in jail to have hope of a better future. A few years ago, she was teaching students public speaking, but they were unable to complete a research project because they did not have a library. I was deeply moved by the situation because I love reading, so I decided to start by building a library and my mother has helped and guided me every step of the way.
HC: What advice do you have for other ambitious collegiettes with a goal/dream?
SB: First, always take chances. Do not be afraid. There are so many opportunities in life, so don’t be afraid to try something new. Secondly, never give up. Sometimes we fail and see no point in trying again, but it is so important to push harder and work longer to overcome every obstacle. Lastly, dream big. It is so easy to see every limit, every restriction, every bound to our successes, but it is so important to keep your dreams alive. Dream higher and bigger than you could ever imagine and one day those dreams can become a reality. Anything is possible.
HC: What are your top goals and priorities post-graduation?
SB: My top priority post-graduation is to experience life and all that the world has to offer. I want to travel and learn new things and take on new adventures. I am glad that William and Mary has a liberal arts-focused education system, because I have so many opportunities to explore different fields of studies and to expand my knowledge broadly across all spectrums so that I am able to find what I am truly passionate about. I am also hoping to begin working on building another library in Ghana next year in my parents’ hometown of Kumasi, and to continue developing and growing Read 2 Lead.
HC: What is your favorite inspirational quote?
SB: “You’re off to great places! Today is your day! Your mountain is waiting, so get on your way!” -Dr. Seuss
HC: How would you describe yourself in five words?
SB: I would describe myself as a leader, dependable, hardworking, disciplined and open-minded.
Elana is a sophomore in the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University, majoring in magazine journalism and economics. She currently works as an editorial intern for Her Campus, as well as a writer for her school's chapter, Her Campus Northwestern. She'll be going abroad in the fall to study journalism in Prague, working at a local media outlet in addition to her classes. In her free time, she captains her Dance Marathon team and teaches local public high schoolers through Peer Health Exchange. She loves spinning, hates nutella, and is totally indifferent towards baby animals. After graduation, she hopes to work for a high-profile lifestyle publication.