Weekly Professor Breakdown
It is easy to forget that each professor is more than a face, more than a voice and more than a required curriculum, but when broken down each professor has a history and a story that brought each one to their current place. Ever wonder who your professor is outside of lecture, where they came from or what their hobbies may be?
Statistics and Economics professor Kofi Yankey was born and raised in Ghana where he attended one of the most prestigious secondary schools, Achimoto, and where he found his passion for sports.
Although his family always encouraged academics first, Yankey found himself engulfed in all athletics offered. From field hockey to track and field, he could rally with the best using his 40-inch vertical and amazing speed. Although he loved all sports, volleyball was his passion. Weekly tournaments and countless hours on the outdoor courts of Ghana is where he developed his skills and matured.
In his teen years Yankey and his family moved to San Diego, where he continued to pursue his hobby and passion. Yankey graduated San Diego State with a degree in Economics; he was able to find a working balance between excellence in the classroom and excellence on the court.
Although never having the opportunity to play competitive college volleyball, Yankey earned a name for himself on his own. His willingness to learn and hard work ethic earned the respect of his volleyball peers. He played in numerous pick up games, outdoors with doubles and indoors with a full team of six. Yankey recalls one of his opponents telling his teammate, "don't dink the ball to Kofi, Kofi gets everything."
Yankey defines himself by his work ethic, on the court and in the classroom. He spent many years as a volleyball coach for San Diego City College and head coaching at San Diego High School. Reminiscing on these years brought a huge smile to Yankey's face. These were the years he was able to share his passion and knowledge with others.
One highlight of his career was taking the inexperienced group of boys at San Diego High School and finishing the season with a 12-1 record.
"There was nothing like seeing the excitement and joy on the boys faces after their first win," Yankey remarked, still beaming.
Yankey's father taught him to never give up by telling him that "perseverance never fails." He applied this phrase to his education, his playing, his coaching, and now is teaching his students the same message. He encourages his students to give their best and his players to play their best, regardless of the grade, regardless of the score. Yankey stated, "There is no shame in losing, only shame in giving up."
He learned the most about volleyball when he deconstructed the opponent to see what elements he was working against; he said he applies the same methods to each one of his classes. Each semester he deconstructs the class as a whole and tries to piece everyone and everything back together so he can learn how to make a successful connection by understanding how each student and class operates.
Success came for Yankey through his relentless diligence, and he hopes his students all find the same. He prides himself on knowing his students individually so that each one becomes more than a face, more than a voice and more than another test score.
He believes his greatest legacy left with his players is the sheer enjoyment of playing the game, not to play for the overall score but for each little victory and accomplishment that takes place in the overall match. It is not the grade or outcome that matters, it is the determination and the unwillingness to give up that makes a person great.
Yankey encourages his students to take that chance, give full effort so that you may wear your name with pride. He did not have endless opportunity, he did not have endless finances; what Yankey had far outreaches anything tangible; he had passion and he had commitment. It is these two qualities that brought Yankey to his greatness.