As a child, Courage Tamakloe faced extraordinary trials as part of his everyday life. Despite these challenges, Tamakloe believes that any situation in his life can be viewed as either a lesson or a blessing, and he chooses to look for the opportunities to grow in any circumstance. As a senior at the BYU Marriott School of Business, Tamakloe now uses his past experiences to stand as an advocate for minorities in the global supply chain program.
Tamakloe was raised by his grandmother in Ghana, West Africa. However, in 2005, when he was nine years old, he moved to Trenton, New Jersey, to live with family, hoping to escape violence in his homeland and find opportunities in America. Unfortunately, the challenges continued. A few months after moving to New Jersey, the apartment he shared with his extended family caught on fire and burned down.
“We lost all of our belongings in the fire,” Tamakloe recalls. “No one in my family had even a pair of socks left. We had to stay in a Catholic church and sleep on the floor until the adults in my family found a different apartment.”
In 2010, Tamakloe’s family was the subject of a robbery. At 2 a.m., three armed men broke into his family’s apartment demanding money. Tamakloe was searched at gunpoint. He and his family were forced into the living room and told that if they looked at the robbers, they would be shot and killed. The men left after taking every valuable in the apartment.
“During the robbery, I made a deal with God that if He would let me live, I would dedicate my life to Him,” he explains. Two weeks later, missionaries from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints knocked on Tamakloe’s door and began teaching him about the Church.
One month after meeting the missionaries, Tamakloe was baptized. One of the things that most impressed Tamakloe was the Church’s focus on individual accountability and personal conversion. “I had attended many churches before, but I felt something different here,” Tamakloe says. “The emphasis the Church places on personal revelation helped me decide to obtain an education and graduate high school. I knew these life steps could help me make a life for myself and become self-reliant.”
Tamakloe’s drive to create success in his life led him to become the first member of his family to graduate high school. Tamakloe caught a glimpse of how an education could change his future and wanted to provide his brother in Ghana with similar opportunities. “In the United States, a high school education is free, whereas in Ghana you pay for each year,” says Tamakloe “I began working in warehouses during high school in order to pay for my brother’s education.”
While working in warehouses, Tamakloe discovered his passion for supply-chain processes and his love for interacting with people from all walks of life. His newfound passion would eventually lead him to study global supply chain management at BYU Marriott and join BYU Marriott’s Global Supply Chain Association (GSCA), a student association that helps supply chain students find lasting success and career paths.
“My ultimate goal is to help anyone who wants an education, especially those who are Black, so that they can create their own lifelong success,” says Tamakloe.
Currently Tamakloe serves as the GSCA vice president of diversity, where he strives to help every member of the club feel welcome and included. “I connect with students who feel like they are on the fringes of the Church, BYU, or society,” Tamakloe says. “My job is to help students, especially minorities studying global supply chain, know that they belong here in the GSCM program.” Once he graduates, Tamakloe hopes to take his mindset of inclusion and work for Walmart or Amazon to improve their supply chain processes and advocate for minorities in a corporate setting.
Tamakloe often reflects on what his life experiences have taught him and how the courage to continue through difficulties has led him to success. “Working to obtain high school and college degrees helped me see that people don’t know how strong they are until they are put in a situation where they have no option but to be strong,” Tamakloe says. “That is the beauty of the human condition. People from small beginnings have big dreams. They just need the opportunities to accomplish them.”
Writer: Kaylee Hepburn