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Scott Bigelow | 910.521.6351 |
University Communications and Marketing

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Tuesday, September 11, 2007

UNCP students hear a unique ‘rags to riches’ story

A lot of motivational speakers have rags to riches stories to tell, but Albert Mensah’s remarkable life story began in a mud hut in West Africa.

Albert Mensah“It was the children’s job to build the house out of mud and rags,” said Mensah, who was born in a rural village in Ghana. “Our first job every morning was to walk two miles to get water. It was very dirty water.”

Mensah spoke to an estimated 500 UNCP students on September 5 in the Givens Performing Arts Center. The talk was sponsored by the Career Services Center.

“Ladies and gentlemen, it’s a wonderful life you live at UNCP,” Mensah said. “We built our own school, and it didn’t have paper, pencils, chairs or books.”

Albert MensahMensah’s life is evidence that “dreams do come true,” even if you dare to dream big dreams. After seeing an American-made movie as a child, Mensah’s dream was to live in the U.S.

“I applied to 450 American colleges,” he said. “My friends laughed and said I’d get there faster by walking. My nickname was ‘States.’”

It worked for Mensah and his brothers who are attorneys in the U.S. today. “These are the same kids who only ate one meal a day.”

He gave students his “ALBERT formula” for success.

  • ‘A’ is for aim high, he said. “You can take the easy way out, but don’t settle for average.”
  • ‘L’ is for learn,” he said. “Learn from others and learn from your mistakes.”
  • Albert Mensah‘B’ is for be yourself, he said. “To pretend to be something you are not is a waste of valuable time.”
  • ‘E’ is for expect a lot from yourself.
  • ‘R’ is for being a risk-taker, he said.
  • ‘T’ is for trust yourself, he said. “Believe in your abilities. Make a commitment to being committed.”

The speaker offered some practical tips for success in college too.

“Turn off the TV and get to work,” Mensah advised. “I did not see a TV until I was 19, and it didn’t kill me.

“You’ve got to make some sacrifices along the way – pay now and play later or play now and pay later,” he said. “I have seven TVs in my house today.”

The Career Services Center may be contacted at 910.521.6270 or by emailing

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