Women of Distinction


Sarafina Kankam

Sarafina Kankam


  • 2012 Campanile Award Winner
  • 2012 Dorothy Shaw Leadership Award, Alpha Delta Pi Sorority
  • Kansas Health Foundation Undergraduate Fellow in Community Health, 2011-‘12
  • KU Multicultural Math and Science Scholar, 2010-present
  • Phi Delta Epsilon Medical Fraternity Vice President of Programming (2011-2012)
  • University of Kansas Black Staff and Faculty Council Undergraduate Achievement Award & Scholarship (2011)
  • Rural Health Project Africa Ambassador (2011)
  • Alpha Delta Pi Tau Chapter Scholarship Committee Member (2010-2011)
  • University of Kansas Microscopy and Analytical Imaging Laboratory Undergraduate Research Assistant (2010-present)
  • Lawrence Memorial Hospital Emergency Room Volunteer (2010-present)
  • University of Kansas Multicultural Math and Science Scholars Program (2010-present)
  • Summer Medical and Dental Education Program Scholar – University of Nebraska Medical Center (Summer 2010)
  • Phi Delta Epsilon Medical Fraternity Vice President of Recruitment and Membership (2010-2011)
  • KU Project Africa Co-Founder and President (2009-present)
  • University of Kansas University Honors Program (2009-present)
  • Alpha Delta Pi Tau Chapter Scholarship Chair (2009-2010)
  • University of Kansas College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Honor Roll
  • Sigma Alpha Lambda National Leadership & Honors Society (2009)

How I became interested in my area field:

The medical profession has been my passion since a very young age. When I was little, I assisted in the care of my younger sister who was sick with an unknown medical problem of which she subsequently passed at the precious age of twenty eight months. Interacting with the Pediatric Specialist and energetic medical students, shaped my desire to one day become a physician. To achieve my goal, I studied human biology which I hope will be a nice springboard to the field of Medicine.

An honor, achievement or accomplishment that is most meaningful to me:

In seventh grade, I won my middle school’s science fair, the state science fair, and then went on and placed second at the regional level. In my experiment, I studied which method of measuring human body temperature (ie. oral, ear, and armpit) was the most accurate. After winning the regional competition, my work was sent to Washington DC where I competed as a Discovery Channel Young Scientist. These achievements are meaningful to me because they helped lay a foundation for my curiosity and love for science.

Someone who has been a role model for me and why:

There are several people who can fulfill this role other than my parents. I will give credit to my lovely family later. However, looking over my list of those I admire (including Mother Theresa, Nelson Mandela, and President Barack Obama), I would say Oprah Winfrey. Her power to persuade extends to a multitude of services. Her purpose in life is guided by the principles of goodness and generosity that transcends any one individual. She is an African American woman of unusual character and a source of beacon of strength for both the privileged and the under-privileged. If such a woman from the segregated south can make it in American, so can I. “Yes I can”.

Someone who has been influential or had a significant impact on my life:

Unquestionably, my parents have had a great impact on my life. Their devoted love, encouragement, and hard work have been the foundation for my future. My father who came to the United States and achieved academic excellence (i.e., RN, BSc, MPH, Ph.D. and MD) has demonstrated how hard work and perseverance can lead to success. My mother also migrated from Ghana to the United States where she has also continued to dedicate her life to serving others in the medical field. My parents remind me at every opportunity they get that work conquers all. They have provided guidance, love and support throughout my life in order to help me achieve my dreams.

My favorite KU memory:

One of my favorite memories as a KU student would have to be participating in Rockchalk Revue (2010) as a cast member. Rockchalk Revue is a performance put on by living student organizations during the spring semester. The performance is at the end of a yearlong of planning, practicing, perfecting, and fundraising. This annual event raises thousands of dollars for the United Way of Douglas County.

If I had a sister just entering college, I would want her to know…

My simple advice to her will be that the first semester is hard to transition into, but afterwards, she should branch out and see the many different opportunities available at college. I would definitely advise her about some of the toxic lifestyles in college and to stay far away from those activities.

A favorite quote or saying and why it is meaningful to me:

Travelling through Ghana, West Africa, I came across the Latin Quote “Deus Lux Scientiae” meaning God is the light of Knowledge. This is the Motto of one of the premier Catholic Secondary Schools in Ghana, where most of their graduates studied in some of the prestigious universities overseas. As a dedicated Catholic, my belief in God is unwavering, and I believe his guiding hands can lead me to my dreams and far above.