Ghanaian law student makes news in US for understudying local govt leaders

Ghanaian law student at Valparaiso University (VU) in the United States has made the news headlines in the US for keenly understudying a US attorney in preparations for his dream to transform Ghanaian local government system.

Stephen Addae, 28, is studying to be an attorney specializing in city/community work. He currently works as an extern with US attorney Dave Hollenbeck, who is also an adjunct law professor at VU.

“I would like to take the skills I am learning here back to Ghana to improve conditions there,” he told The Times, an Indiana-based national newspaper in the US.

The newspapers reported that Stephen Addae has been attending local municipal meetings to gain knowledge he can use to improve local government in his home country of Ghana.

Stephen Addae was a student in Hollenbeck’s class in September and shadowing the attorney this winter has given Addae a more hands-on experience into local government law.

“It’s been amazing,” Addae said. “The experience that I’ve had is priceless. I’ve learned a lot of practical things.”

Addae has also met with Mayor Jon Costas and discussed the criminal justice system with Porter Superior Court Judge Roger Bradford.

“Every day is a learning experience,” Addae said.
When he returns to Ghana, Addae plans to get involved in local government with plans to address what he says is a disconnect between it and the local people.

Hollenbeck said Addae is committed to returning to Ghana to make his country better.

“And that to me is what’s so exciting about his involvement here,” Hollenbeck said.

Hollenbeck said the university is experiencing more foreign students like Addae and as a professor, he finds it intriguing and important by bringing an element to the classroom “we have not had in the past.”

“Students like Stephen who are incredibly bright and enthusiastic and are just sponges for learning really add a lot to the education process for everyone including the professor,” Hollenbeck said. 

Hollenbeck said Addae has learned about the prosperity of downtown Valparaiso and how the public and private sectors come together to make that possible.

“It’s good exposure for Stephen to see that the two can work together,” Hollenbeck said.

Addae, who plans to write a book about local government in Ghana, said people in Valparaiso have been “very nice” and he’s learned life lessons he’ll carry with him onward.

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