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18-year-old Opoku Ware alum gains entry into 8 top US universities

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Samuel Mensah18-year-old alum of Opoku Ware School, Samuel Mensah, got admission into three Ivy League schools in the USA. The US Embassy in a Monday Motivation post on Facebook shared the news of Samuel’s academic strides with the rest of Ghana. From somewhere in mid-March, he began learning he had gained admission to eight universities in the US, all on full scholarships. The three Ivy League schools out of the lot are Princeton, Dartmouth and Columbia universities. Stanford, Duke, Northwestern, Williamson and Vanderbilt universities are the other five schools, which are highly regarded in their own right. Columbia, which accepted Samuel, has the second highest average GPA Samuel, who will turn 19 later in April, 2018, was understandably elated about what lay ahead of him when citinewsroom.com spoke to him. “I’m really excited at the prospect of going to some of the best universities in the US and consequently in the entire world. Going on full scholarship merits that response so I am very excited and very happy about the whole thing.” Before the bliss he is currently enjoying, Samuel had to go through what he described as a daunting process that started with the SATs (Scholastic Assessment Tests), right after he finished High School in May 2017. He started studying for the SATs in July 2017, and took the test in October. After the tests, it came with the application processes which were also arduous in their own ways. “During October, November, December, that’s when we put together the essays, recommendation and all that is required for the applications,” he recalled. It is at this point that Education USA stepped in with its support. He also got help from Afex Test Prep which helped with his essays and financial aid applications. “Because the whole [American] system is sort of different from how our university system works, it’s confusing, and that is where they come in with their expertise. When we get a problem, we ask them questions and all that. They had workshops and seminars that we attended,” he explained. Samuel was forged through and through by Ghana’s education system. He attended nursery and basic education at Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) Basic School, before moving to Opoku Ware, already noted as one of Ghana’s top high schools. https://youtu.be/MqJHlkw64is Those with a keen eye would have noticed him during the National Science and Maths Quiz competition in 2017, as one of Opoku Ware’s representatives. They would have also seen his school get upset at the round-of-16 stage after being knocked out by Keta Senior High School. “I was the one who got us knocked out at an early stage,” Samuel laughed recalling the competition. There was virtually no rest for the 18-year-old from the beginning of the 2016/2017 academic year till the end of 2017 given his commitments to schooling, the West African Senior Secondary Certificate Exams, the Science and Maths Quiz, the SATs and then onto the application process. He gained admission to KNUST, but eventually dropped out to focus on his applications for the US schools to the worry of his parents. But along the way, a lot of his mates were doing some dropping outs of their own. “It takes a lot of determination. Back when we were in school, a lot of people said they would do the Brilla [Science and Maths Quiz] but along the way, they fell off. It was a lot of work. When we completed, there were a lot of people who also said they would write the SATs. Most of them, when we started they weren’t really getting the thing. They were like; this is too difficult.” “Even when we started applications, there were people who had written the SATs, but they said this is too difficult. We were writing about 12 essays for a single school and those kinds of things, and they were like, nah. It takes a lot of perseverance, a lot of determination, focus and drive,” Samuel stated. “It’s tiring. I know people who tried for about two or three years before they got into a school with scholarships. It’s work. It is for those who will persevere to the end. But no matter whatever you put in, the reward at the end is much more than what you put in so it’s worth it.” This drive has put him in an enviable position with three Ivy League schools, among others at his mercy, but his eventual choice may surprise some. Things have not been finalized yet, but Samuel revealed that his choice will “most likely” be Stanford University in California, a school renowned as one of the world’s leading teaching and research institutions. In 2017, Stanford was ranked 5th best out of 1,387 schools in the US Whilst acknowledging the allure of the Ivy League schools, he said Stanford best suited his ambitions which are aligned with academia and engineering. “I am more academia inclined. As at now, I am thinking about going to grad school and pursuing a Masters degree and PhD,” he noted. This may keep him away from Ghana for the next seven to eight years, but he plans on coming back home eventually. In 10 years, Samuel sees himself engaged in a technology-based start-up and also some teaching in Ghana. He also hopes to make the opportunities that granted him a US-based education more accessible to students that went through the public school system like he did. He observed that “most of the time, it is those in the international schools that are able to get these kinds of opportunities and who go to these schools.” Thus, he hopes to get the students in “public schools who have the drive, dedication and who have the ability to achieve this of kind thing resources to really pursue an education at the highest level.” Samuel knows a ton of hard work awaits him when schools open in September, and he even feels his mind has become a little rusty since he finished the application process. But for now, his parents and his four older sisters continue to bask in the glory. He remains grateful for the moral support and financial support he got from his parents. Samuel also recalled that his father, a librarian; and his mother, a businesswoman, were not even conversant with the concept of an Ivy League School. They were just happy for their son after the initial apprehension of him stopping school to focus on the application process. “My parents, they didn’t really understand. My sisters understood the magnitude of what I had done. For my parents, they really didn’t understand. They were like he has gotten a scholarship and all that, but they didn’t understand the Ivy league and that kind of thing.” Samuel may not end up choosing an Ivy League school, but with the tough statistics and stringent entry requirements in mind, he urged other students with similar ambitions to keep their eyes on the prize.]]>

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How to Be More Confident on Camera as a Youtuber

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CONFIDENCE is very important. The more confident you appear, the more viewers will listen to you. (more…)

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Graduate who went viral for begging for a job with a placard says he’s received 50 offers since

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Isaac Kwame Addae, a young unemployed graduate who took to the streets with a placard, looking for a job, says he  has been offered opportunities by at least  50 different firms. (more…)

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Meta’s AI AI machine translation research helps break language barriers

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Today, Meta announced that it has built and open sourced ‘No Language Left Behind’ NLLB-200, a single AI model that is the first to translate across 200 different languages, including 55 African languages with state-of-the-art results. Meta is using the modelling techniques and learnings from the project to improve and extend translations on Facebook, Instagram, and Wikipedia.

 

In an effort to develop high-quality machine translation capabilities for most of the world’s low-resource languages, this single AI model was designed with a focus on African languages. They are challenging from a machine translation perspective. AI models require lots and lots of data to help them learn, and there’s not a lot of human translated training data for these languages. For example, there’s more than 20M people who speak and write in Luganda but examples of this written language are extremely difficult to find on the internet.

 

We worked with professional translators for each of these languages to develop a reliable benchmark which can automatically assess translation quality for many low-resource languages. We also work with professional translators to do human evaluation too, meaning people who speak the languages natively evaluate what the AI produced. The reality is that a handful of languages dominate the web, so only a fraction of the world can access content and contribute to the web in their own language. We want to change this by creating more inclusive machine translations systems – ones that unlock access to the web for the more than 4B people around the world that are currently excluded because they do not speak one of the few languages content is available in.

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“It’s impressive how much AI is improving all of our services. We just open-sourced an AI model we built that can translate across 200 different languages — many of which aren’t supported by current translation systems. We call this project No Language Left Behind, and the AI modelling techniques we used are helping make high quality translations for languages spoken by billions of people around the world. To give a sense of the scale, the 200-language model has over 50 billion parameters, and we trained it using our new Research SuperCluster, which is one of the world’s fastest AI supercomputers. The advances here will enable more than 25 billion translations every day across our apps. Communicating across languages is one superpower that AI provides, but as we keep advancing our AI work it’s improving everything we do — from showing the most interesting content on Facebook and Instagram, to recommending more relevant ads, to keeping our services safe for everyone,” said Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg in a post on his Facebook profile.

 

Language is our culture, identity, and lifeline to the world. However, as high-quality translation tools don’t exist for hundreds of languages, billions of people today can’t access digital content or participate fully in conversations and communities online in their preferred or native languages. This is especially true for hundreds of millions of people who speak the many languages of Africa.

 

“Africa is a continent with very high linguistic diversity, and language barriers exist day to day. We are pleased to announce that 55 African languages will be included in this machine translation research, making it a major breakthrough for our continent,” Balkissa Ide Siddo, Public Policy Director for Africa said while speaking about the launch of the AI model. “In the future, imagine visiting your favourite Facebook group, coming across a post in Igbo or Luganda, and being able to understand it in your own language with just a click of a button – that’s where we hope research like this leads us. Highly accurate translations in more languages could also help to spot harmful content and misinformation, protect election integrity, and curb instances of online sexual exploitation and human trafficking.”

 

While commenting on accessibility and inclusion in the pursuit of building an equitable metaverse, Ide Siddo added “At Meta, we are working today to ensure that as many people as possible will be able to access the new educational, social and economic opportunities that the next evolution of the internet will bring to future technology and an everyday living experience tomorrow.”

 

To confirm that the translations are high quality, Meta also created a new evaluation dataset, FLORES-200, and measured NLLB-200’s performance in each language. Results revealed that NLLB-200 exceeds the previous state of the art by an average of 44 percent.

 

Meta is also open-sourcing the NLLB-200 model and publishing a slew of research tools to enable other researchers to extend this work to more languages and build more inclusive technologies. Meta AI is also providing up to $200,000 of grants to non-profit organizations for real world applications for NLLB-200.

 

There are versions of Wikipedia in more than 300 languages, but most have far fewer articles than the 6+ million available in English. Following Meta’s partnership with the Wikimedia Foundation, the non-profit organization that hosts Wikipedia and other free knowledge projects, modelling  techniques and learnings from the NLLB research are now also being applied to translation systems used by Wikipedia editors. Using the Wikimedia Foundation’s Content Translation Tool, articles can now be easily translated in more than 20 low-resource languages (those that don’t have extensive datasets to train AI systems), including 10 that previously were not supported by any machine translation tools on the platform.

 

To explore a demo of NLLB-200 showing how the model can translate stories from around the world, visit here. You can also read the research paper here.

 

 

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I single-handedly popularized Shea Butter in the United States – Margaret Andega

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According to Margaret Andega, a Kenyan entrepreneur in Atlanta, she was the driving force behind the commercialization of Shea Butter in the US during the late 90s. (more…)

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Ludwig Nii Jr urges information sharing in the creative space

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Ludwig Nii Jr urges information sharing in the creative space. (more…)

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How are CBD Flowers and CBG Flowers Different?

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CBG flower and CBD flower are two types of flowers that are used for their respective health benefits. CBD flowers are known for their calming and relaxing effects, while CBG flowers are known for relieving pain and inflammation.  (more…)

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