ELIZABETH CITY, N.C. – In her address to students during Honors Convocation, Ama Agyapong ’16 shared the three things she learned at Elizabeth City State University (ECSU) that have helped her get thus far.

“Learn to recognize an opportunity … find alternate routes and know that those alternate routes will get you to the destination … and take time to celebrate the little victories you encounter along the way,” she said.

Agyapong, who aspired to become a pilot, happened upon ECSU after opening a letter from the university that was addressed to her younger brother. After seeing an aircraft on a brochure, the then aviation structural mechanic made a phone call that connected her to an aviation professor, who personally showed her campus and connected her to the person who got her enrolled in a summer program, which led to her enrolling at the university.

“It was a no-brainer,” she said.

The U.S. Naval Reserves veteran began her journey as an aviation student who later changed her major to physics and is currently a process engineer at Lam Research in Fremont, Calif., where she works with semiconductor companies to develop processes for chip developments. Her journey to now included a stop at The Pennsylvania State University where she encountered imposter syndrome and learned a valuable lesson.

“Hindsight is 20/20 – if I would have taken the time to look around, I would have realized that the only person who was doubting me, was me,” Agyapong said.

She now realizes that it was her mentors and their commitment to her success that kept her motivated.

“(They) saw me as the embodiment of excellence. It showed up in their encouragement, in their recommendation letters, and in their strive to find funding for my research,” she said.

Agyapong believes the mentors of the students honored, see the same thing in them.

“You are among the few. You are excellence. You are celebrated,” she said.