Eben Afarikumah Raises the Bar for GCC’s Computer Information Systems Program

February 12, 2021

Greenfield is a world away from Eben Afarikumah’s original home in Ghana, but it was the similarities between the two places that drew him to GCC. “Where I come from is hilly and mountainous. So when I drive into GCC, and I see the mountains, it does give me an idea of where I originally come from and that kind of attachment to my origin.”

Although the beautiful setting drew him to GCC, it was the mission that inspired him to stay. “I’m also here to impart knowledge to other people so that they can become what they wish to become,” he says. “And indeed that encouraged me to stay with GCC.”

Afarikumah, who began teaching at GCC in the fall of 2019, is an assistant professor of computer information systems. He came to GCC with an extensive background as a researcher, instructor, and IT professional both in Ghana and in the United States.

Afarikumah began his education at the University of Ghana, earning a bachelor’s of science in computer science and statistics and a master’s in business administration. While attending the International Statistical Association Conference in Germany, Afarikumah became very interested in big data and decided to pursue work in that direction. In particular, he was interested in helping hospitals develop electronic database systems for managing patient medical records. This led him to the work of his doctoral degree in information technology at the Accra Institute of Technology and Open University of Malaysia, studying electronic health and telehealth as it pertains to the developing world.

Afarikumah has a passion for making health care available to people in remote areas, especially connecting them to specialists through technology. “That is something that I’m so excited and enthused about—to make sure we deploy technology for the benefit of humanity.”

It was his interest in health IT that led Afarikumah to Massachusetts. The state is central to this work in the United States, so in 2013 he relocated to Worcester to work on an AS in computer information systems at Quinsigamond Community College. Afarikumah finished this degree in 2016 and then finished his doctorate in 2019, writing a dissertation entitled, “Implementing Digital Health in Ghana: An Actor-Network Theory Approach.”

Before coming to the United States, Afarikumah worked for many years as a senior scientific researcher at the Council for Scientific and Industrial research, the largest research institute in Ghana. He also taught as an adjunct professor at the University of Ghana Business School and in their continuing education program, as well as at the Accra Institute of Technology Department of Biostatistics, among other institutions.

Once he settled in Massachusetts, Afarikumah worked at Genesis Healthcare Systems as their medical records manager and taught courses in business information systems at Framingham State University.

Afarikumah also took the opportunity to start a nonprofit, the Telehealth and Assisted Living Center in Worcester, to further his efforts to improve people’s lives through technology. The organization helps senior living communities implement telehealth services, educates people on becoming independent through technology, provides assistive technology tools to people with disabilities, and collects technology donations to support people in the developing world.

At GCC, Afarikumah teaches a variety of technology courses, including JavaScript, Microcomputer Software Tools I and II, Relational Database Design and Application, Web Site Design and Development I and II, Network Server Administration, and Programming Principles and Concepts. He is also teaching Foundations of Data Analytics through GCC Workforce Development. To broaden students’ computer science opportunities, Afarikumah, as a member of the college’s planning and evaluation committee, is also working with the Five Colleges and the community colleges of the Pioneer Valley to introduce data science into the curricula.

Afarikumah’s knowledge and experience have been crucial to the development of the college’s computer information systems program. “He was able to make some of the enormous distinctions between what a computer programming and a computer information curriculum looks like prior to this decade and what one looks like for the future,” observes Dean of Social Sciences and Professional Studies Chet Jordan. “He has the imaginative capacity to think forward and think deeply into what the curriculum needs and what the students need.” Afarikumah also has a clear understanding of how best to prepare students for careers. He knows, as Jordan explains, “a lot of our students that go into the computer information systems program are not going to be computer scientists, but are going to go into fields that require them to be very tech savvy, understand programming, and understand web design.

In his teaching, Afarikumah loves opportunities to help students become independent in their work. “I tell my students it is not a grade that I am particular about—I want you to get some skill,” he explains. He also enjoys helping students see that they are up to the challenge of learning to work with computers. “At the end, when they come up and say, ‘Oh, we thought this would be a difficult course but you made it look simple for us,’ I get so happy about that.” Afarikumah also loves the opportunity to mentor students in preparing for careers and even using their IT skills to start businesses or nonprofits of their own.

Afarikumah is involved in extracurricular activities at GCC as well, serving as the faculty advisor of the CompTIA student organization. The group helps students with information technology career development, networking with professionals in the field, and preparation for CompTIA professional certification exams.

Outside of his work at GCC, Afarikumah is very immersed in his local community. He is on the board of directors of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Franklin County, which fosters mentoring relationships between adults and youth in the community, and a member of the Mohawk Trail Toastmasters Club. Afarikumah is also active in his church and volunteers with organizations supporting homeless people.

Dean of Social Sciences and Professional Studies Chet Jordan states, “Professor Afarikumah is an excellent member of the faculty and has explored various research opportunities that support the college’s path to innovation.”

LEARN MORE ABOUT GCC BUSINESS PROGRAMS:
gcc.mass.edu/academics/areas-of-study

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