Professor Lydia Aziato is a Ghanaian nurse and academic who has risen through the ranks to become the Vice Chancellor of the University of Health and Allied Sciences based in Ghana’s Volta Region. The position makes her the fifth woman in Ghana’s history to become Vice Chancellor of a public university.
Aziato comes from a one-man village community called Abrodiem, in the Eastern region of Ghana. To attain education, she would walk more than a mile to the next village. In high school, she studied science but could not make the required grade to get admitted to the university.
She then decided to pursue nursing at Korle Bu Nursing Training College in Ghana’s capital Accra and graduated with five distinctions out of seven subjects. Due to her exceptional academic performance, she was made to skip a mandatory three-year work requirement before pursuing further studies.
She realized her dream of pursuing a university education after she was admitted to the University of Ghana and graduated with the highest GPA (grade point average or the average of all grades calculated on a seven-point grading scale) in her class.
Following her wonderful academic performance, the university asked her to stay to help the school. They subsequently sought permission from the ministry of health for her secondment to the university.
“After this, I started [working on] my master’s degree in 2003, which I completed in 2005. I won a scholarship to the University of South Wales. By this time, I had my first child and was pregnant with my second and, so, I had to defer my admission and finally left my children in the care of my mum,” she told University World News.
Determined to have her Ph.D., she took a loan and enrolled with the University of the Western Cape, South Africa, in 2011. Prior to that, she had lost both her parents and siblings.
“By March 2013, I had graduated. After this, I didn’t put out the fire. I realized that university was not just about teaching alone. So, I set out to publish papers and did that with zeal. I finally got my full professorship and was made the first substantive dean of the school of nursing at the University of Ghana. I applied for this position and was appointed, and I took over on 1 August 2022,” she noted.
According to Aziato, starting as a nurse and rising to become a Vice Chancellor did not come easy. She observed that the nursing and midwifery profession has a lot of glass ceilings.
“If you go to the ministry of health, for instance, you don’t find many nurses in the position of director. If you go to the universities, no nurse has ever been a pro-vice-chancellor. We never had a nurse as a professor,” the academic and mother of three noted.
As a person who was not afraid of risks, Aziato broke a lot of glass ceilings on her way to the top. She broke it at the University of Ghana as the first substantive dean and broke it again when she received the award as the Emerging Nurse Researcher in the Africa sub-region from the Sigma Theta Tau International, the second-largest nursing organization in the world, based in Indianapolis, United States.