– by Marcia DeMinco, Analyst Relations Manager

Imagine travelling over 5,000 miles from a small town in Ghana, Africa to Norwalk, Conn.  for a once in a lifetime mentorship opportunity.  This story isn’t so much what one woman did to advance her career by traveling overseas. It’s about what Nana Beecham did once she got back home and what it has meant to others in Ghana.

Beecham, managing director of Seatec Telecom Services last year took advantage of the U.S. State Department’s Global Women’s Mentoring Partnership program.   This program connects America’s senior female executives with emerging female leaders from other countries.

I had the privilege of hosting Nana while she visited Xerox and several local businesses in the Rochester, N.Y. area.       A quiet, soft-spoken woman, but one with many passions,  came to the United States to not only learn how to help her company grow but also learn how to enhance her own professional and leadership skills.    And as luck would have it, so much more happened.

It didn’t take long for Nana to transform her experience into something much bigger back home. With the help of two Xerox caucus groups, the Black Women’s Leadership Council (BWLC) and The Women’s Alliance, she is facilitating her own mentoring program with second-year high school girls in Ghana who are studying science and engineering.  Five of these young women are personally mentored, via Internet, by U.S.-based BWLC members.

I have sat on calls with these young girls and they are so excited to be embraced by other professional women who are helping them with their future goals and ambitions.   One wants to be a doctor, another an engineer and with our help those dreams may come true.

And ironically through the relationships Nana built while visiting Norwalk and Rochester, she not only was able to attain the knowledge she sought but also was able to begin fostering a long desired dream to help her community in their literacy initiatives.   There are few books, no libraries and no means to acquire reading materials.   But now through book donations made by the Rochester Rundel Library Foundation and the Rochester Literacy Movement, Nana is getting the help to make a difference for young students in Ghana.

When I talk to Nana she is so happy that her visit here has brought about so much good there.    It’s nice to know we are making a difference in a community so far away both professionally and personally.    And it’s a good feeling to know that one person can make a difference.