College to recognize Koomson, Turkle with honorary degrees during Commencement

Steven Viera || Managing Editor

Recently, the College announced that it will bestow honorary degrees on two distinguished scholars: Robert Kwesi Koomson ’97 and Sherry Turkle. Dan Porterfield, president of the College, will present these degrees on Friday, May 9, as part of Commencement.

Before earning a master’s degree in mathematics from Villanova University and an MBA in business administration and management from West Chester University of Pennsylvania, Koomson was a special studies and mathematics major at F&M.

In 2004, Koomson founded the Heritage Academy, a school for children in pre-kindergarten through ninth grade, in his hometown of Breman Esiam, Ghana; soon after, he opened another school for pre-kindergarten children through seventh graders in the nearby village of Oschio. Six years later, in Breman Esiam, Koomson opened a high school. Beginning with only 32 children in a small church in 2004, the total student population across all three schools is now over 1,350.

According to Koomson, the
Heritage Academy aims to teach its students more critical thinking skills than simply rote memorization. Even so, students at the Heritage Academy have a 100 percent passing rate on Ghana’s National Exams — an uncommon accomplishment for village schools.

Additionally, Koomson serves as executive director of the Schoerke Foundation, a non-profit education philanthropy he founded with his wife, Melissa Schoerke Koomson, in 2006. And, according to an article on F&M’s news website, Koomson and his wife were honored for their work providing education in Africa with the Friends Council on Education’s Leadership Award for Service to Society.

The second honorary degree recipient, Sherry Turkle, is an expert in the fields of mobile technology, social networking, and sociable robotics. After living for several years in France in the 1960s, Turkle earned a degree in social studies from Radcliffe College and, later, a doctorate on sociology and personality from Harvard University.

She has published a number of books examining the interplay between humans and technology, according to an article on F&M’s news website, such as The Second Self: Computers and the Human Spirit” and Life on the Screen: Identity in the Age of the Internet, as well as serving as an editor of several books on similar subject matter.

Today, she is the Abby Rockefeller Mauze Professor of the Social Studies of Science and Technology at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), where she founded and serves as the director of the MIT Initiative on Technology and Self.

Turkle has been featured in The New York Times, Scientific American, and Wired Magazine. In 1984, Ms. Magazine named her its “Woman of the Year,” and, in 1985, Esquire Magazine named her as one of the “Forty under Forty” changing the nation. She has appeared on Nightline, Frontline, 20/20, and The Colbert Report, and is a featured commentator on CBS, NBC, ABC, CNN, the BBC, and NPR.

For more information on the honorary degree recipients, visit the article on F&M’s news website: http://www.fandm.edu/news/latest-news/2015/03/30/hbo-chief-plepler-81-to-deliver-commencement-address.

Junior Steven Viera is the Managing Editor. His email is sviera@fandm.edu.

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