Shadrack Frimpong: From Charcoal Seller’s Son to Professor-In-Training At Cambridge
Born in Tarkwa Breman to parents who were subsistent farmers and charcoal sellers, Shadrack grew up in a household without running water or electricity. After getting a serious infection at age 9 that almost resulted in the amputation of his legs, Shadrack became extra diligent with his studies to fulfil a promise he made to God on his sick bed, that he would dedicate the rest of his life towards helping others if he survived. He was also goaded on by the knowledge of the loan his parents took, using their farm land as collateral to get him treatment at a hospital five hours away from their home.
His diligent studies paid off as he gained admission to Opoku Ware School in Kumasi, Ghana, with a partial scholarship from the Ghana Cocoa Board. From there, he gained admission to the University of Pennsylvania from where he graduated in 2015 with a degree in biology, making him the first person from his village to attend school in the U.S.
In 2018, he returned to University of Pennsylvania for a master’s degree in non-profit leadership. He graduated with the Richard J. Estes Global Citizenship Award, which is awarded to a graduate of the Nonprofit Leadership Program who exhibits academic excellence, a commitment to improving the world, and dedication to social impact. In 2019, he was a student at the Yale School of Public Health’s Advanced Professional Program where he was the recipient of the Horstmann Scholarship to fund his Master’s in Public Health degree. Currently, he is working towards a PhD in Public Health and Primary Care at the University of Cambridge.
Shadrack is an entrepreneur and global health leader. In 2015, he was awarded the Amy Gutmann’s President’s Engagement Prize where he received $150,000. He used the prize money to found the nonprofit Cocoa360 where proceeds from a community-run cocoa farm are used to provide free education at the organization’s Tarkwa Breman Girls School, and to subsidize healthcare at its medical clinic. As of 2019, Cocoa360 was reported to have 60 acres of communal land, which consists of the school campus, 10 acres of cocoa farms, and land that is uncultivated. Villagers volunteer labor on the cocoa farm in exchange for tuition-free education at the school and subsidized healthcare.
In the same year, he also received the Samuel Huntington Public Service Award. In 2018, he received the Queen’s Young Leader Award. Also in 2018, he received the Boyer Scholarship, becoming the second African recipient and first ever from West Africa. The Boyer Scholarship resulted in him becoming a member of the First Troop Philadelphia City Cavalry. In 2018, he was named one of Forbes‘s “30 under 30” social entrepreneurs for 2019. In 2019, Frimpong was also one of six recipients of the Muhammad Ali Humanitarian Award, which recognizes activists who work towards social change under age thirty.
In 2019, he was appointed as an editor of the Yale Journal of Health Policy, Law, and Ethics. He co-founded the African Research Academies for Women, Inc. He also founded the organization Students for A Healthy Africa, which provides health insurance to AIDS orphans in Ghana.