New country, new opportunities, newest school board member

The ICCSD school board recently appointed a new member, Dromi Etsey, a lawyer and immigrant from Ghana.

Dromi+Etsey+is+the+most+recently+appointed+member+to+the+ICCSD+school+board.

Image courtesy of Dromi Etsey

Dromi Etsey is the most recently appointed member to the ICCSD school board.

It has been 10 years. 10 years since she made the decision to journey 6,000 miles away from Ghana, the only home she had ever known, to Iowa City. She is now a two-time law school graduate and the newest member of the ICCSD school board. She is Dromi Etsey.

“I moved here and I had to go to law school,” Etsey said. “The teaching, the environment, everything is very different from Ghana. But, one of my values is that when you commit to do something you have to try to see it through.”

Etsey was born and raised in Ghana, West Africa. She decided to move to Iowa City because her husband was living there at the time. Etsey had already gone to law school and had been practicing law in Ghana. But, with her move to the U.S., she had to start all over.

“When you come to the U.S., you have to sort of go back to school,” she said. “Not because they don’t trust the education, but they trust the U.S.; they trust their standards better than anyone’s standards.”

After graduating from the University of Iowa College of Law in May 2014, Etsey was determined to take the bar once and only once. She worked hard to accomplish this goal and succeeded in passing the bar on her first try.

Now, after working at the University of Iowa College of Law and while currently working at Pearson Education, Etsey has been appointed to the ICCSD school board.

“I am, I guess, overwhelmed because there’s a lot I don’t know and I have to know a lot in order to make a meaningful contribution,” Etsey said. “I have a lot to know from people around like students and kids in my life.”

Etsey has always dreamed of working with young people. She didn’t know in what shape or form she wanted to work with kids, but she did know that having a significant impact on children was something that she wanted to contribute to the world. Her new school board position will give her the opportunity to realize this goal and help young people in the community.

“I want to be bold,” Etsey said. “I want to be the first to raise my hand. I want to be the first to try new things, whether or not I know what the end is going to be.”

Being on the school board is a completely new and unexpected step in Etsey’s career and life. But, Emily Hughes and Jill De Young, friends and former coworkers of Etsey, believe that the diversity of worldviews and experience Etsey brings to the table from Ghana and the University of Iowa College of Law make her an important addition to the school board.

I want to be bold. I want to be the first to raise my hand. I want to be the first to try new things, whether or not I know what the end is going to be.”

— Dromi Etsey, ICCSD school board member

“She brings a lawyer’s perspective, as well as a parent’s perspective, as well as the perspective of somebody who moved into this community from a different country,” Hughes said. “I think all of those perspectives combined together give her an important voice that is going to help us really think through some difficult issues in new ways.”

“That type of international experience gives someone the ability to understand that there are different ways to do things, and that there are different needs that need to be met in our community,” De Young said.

Etsey is devoted to getting things done. She is focused on bringing equity to the educational system of the ICCSD.

A former teacher and coworker of Etsey, Raymond Atuguba, Dean of the School of Law in the University of Ghana, thinks that Etsey’s work with him has provided her with useful experience for this job. Atuguba believes the focus of Etsey’s work with him on human rights and deprived segments of the population will help her in identifying and finding solutions for problems in the Iowa City community.

“Once you work on those issues, your sense of fairness and your ability to balance things to make them equitable becomes sharpened,” Atuguba said.

Etsey believes that having diverse perspectives, thoughts and voices being heard in the community is important.

Everything about learning helps us make progress in our lives. Education doesn’t result in you having everything that you want, but knowledge is power.”

— Dromi Etsey, ICCSD school board member

“Diversity brings richness to the community; it makes learning rich or makes us all rich because we learn from each other,” she said. “That’s how I think as a society we need to look at things, that we learn from each other and learning doesn’t stop. It’s continuous like it’s something that we always have to do.”

Etsey will bring a diverse new angle to the ICCSD school board with her background in aiding underprivileged, underrepresented people in Ghana and in Iowa City at the University of Iowa College of Law. She plans on working hard to ensure that every child in the Iowa City area gets a fair and equal opportunity to learn.

“Everything about learning helps us make progress in our lives,” Etsey said. “Education doesn’t result in you having everything that you want, but knowledge is power.”