PERSONAL STATEMENT: NIMOH GABRIEL TAWIAH
My decision to pursue a Master of Urban Planning was influenced in June 2012, when I volunteered with New Africa Foundation, an organization that applies human-centered design to address some of Ghana’s most pressing urban issues like homelessness, poverty, and gentrification. Project teams were assembled to create services and products which provided temporal accommodation for victims which were displaced as a result of a major flood which occurred in Accra, Ghana. Through my involvement with the organization and the Accra community, I learned about how urban issues are related and the importance to design a community with its needs at the center. I realized the importance of thinking creatively about social problems and using a designer’s mindset to ensure that at-risk individuals are included and empowered through the problem-solving process. It was then that I knew that planning was an effective and creative way for me to create social change.
My experience with New Africa Foundation challenged and influenced my decision to pursue a Bachelor of Science in Geography and Regional Planning at the University of Cape Coast. During my undergraduate studies, I was introduced to theories and practical lessons which have helped me gain an understanding and knowledge of some of the contemporary planning issues. Due to this, I would like to expand on this knowledge by pursuing Master of Urban Planning at McGill University, so that I will be equipped to meet the broad and varied range of issues connected with planning, most especially in the field of housing and homelessness which my passion immediately fell and continuously lie.
During my undergraduate program, I was an active member of Youth-Mappers, an international community of university students whose goals are to map vulnerable communities and to also develop resilient communities. My contribution gave me the opportunity to attend a three-day workshop which was held at the University of Cape Coast. The workshop built my capacity in creating and using crowdsourced geospatial data, the use of Kobo Toolbox for data collection and the conduct of integrated research. This engagement together with my GIS and Remote Sensing courses aided me to develop a flood risk map for Accra Metropolitan Assembly regarding the 2015 Accra floods, so as to enhance proper planning of the city.
In putting the knowledge acquired into practice, I engaged in an industrial internship with the Town and Country Planning Department in Kumasi-Ghana, where I was exposed to several hypothetical and handy experiences on the job field. These experiences gave me the opportunity to spearhead a team of planning students on a project we carried out, entailed the Redesigning of the Kumasi Central Market, where I came with a plan that changed the flow of activities in the market. This enhanced my natural ability to develop solutions to problems associated with poor planning.
As part of serving my nation, I worked at the National Commission for Civic Education (NCCE) at Kwabre East Municipal as a civil education officer. During my work placement at NCCE, we collaborated with the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) to embark on a tax campaign exercise, which was well received by the people of Ghana. Between the months of May and June 2018 the Municipal had generated a twenty-eight (28) percent increase in their Internal Generated Fund. A Portion of the funds was used to fix bad roads in the Municipality. My engagements with the community have also improved my interpersonal, presentation and writing skills, which I know is a center prerequisite to this program. These skills have prepared me for graduate studies and I am willing to share them with my fellow course mates during my study at McGill University.
My choice of McGill University is not by accident. After a thorough search of several programs, the high academic standards, harmonious learning environment, and the students’ focused programs of the school caught my attention. I decided to apply for admission into your graduate school because of the structure of the Master of Urban Planning program (diversity in the areas of specialization) and the course content, as it trains professional urban planners who are prepared to address timely planning issues the world faces on multiple fronts.
My professional goal is to learn as much as I can about higher education that would strengthen my awareness about trends within the field of planning and how I can contribute to the overall mission and purpose of the profession. My career goal is to become an urban planner with a special interest in housing and homelessness. With the expected capacity, my long-term goal also includes liaising with the Ministry of Planning and Housing of Ghana, and development-oriented bodies to introduce and build emergency and temporary shelters in Ghana to accommodate homeless and displaced people in terms of disaster.
I am an individual with a strong thirst for challenges, new experiences and impacting change and I believe if I am offered a place at McGill University to pursue a Master of Urban Planning, it will serve as a great opportunity for me to develop my career goal. I look forward to the possibility of working with you.
Nimoh Gabriel Tawiah