Musa Konneh was going through his freshman year at Manor College just like thousands of other kids throughout the years. He played soccer and went to class, before his life was turned upside down.
Konneh’s father, who was a huge part of his life, had passed away while on a trip to Africa, where the family is originally from.
Suddenly all of the preparation for what Musa called “man of the house” responsibilities made sense — Musa hadn’t known his father was sick.
“He was teaching me stuff about mortgages, credit cards and loans,” Konneh said. “I was kind of confused as to why am I learning about mortgages and credit cards and loans and paying bills, all that sort of stuff.”
After his father passed away, Konneh realized that his father was trying to prepare him to take care of the family, as the oldest of seven siblings, it was considered part of his culture. His mother doesn’t speak English well, and somebody had to step up to help.
Konneh felt at that time it was his duty to stand up and become the man of the house — he was around 17 at the time. He took time off from Manor and got a job working at Jeanes Hospital in the dietary section. The long hours took a toll on him, and he yearned for something more.
“I just told myself, this is what it’s gonna be like, go to school to get a better job, whereas I don’t have to work twice as much as I had to, to make a certain amount of money,” Konneh said.
Konneh had a choice to make: Although he was making good money for someone his age, he felt compelled to be an example for his younger siblings.
“I wanted to give them a better life,” Konneh said. “I didn’t want them to go through the things I had to.”
He drew strength from the lessons his father taught him — lessons about seeing things through and always working hard to get what you want, he took these lessons to heart. He also attributes his success to the faculty at Manor College, particularly his soccer coach, John Dempster, and his professor and adviser JP Lutz.
Lutz spoke of Konneh’s remarkable character, saying how Konneh helped him at the retail store he owns.
“Musa is a guy that really was dealt with some adversity in his life and really was able then to also prioritize his education,” Lutz said. “He made that a point and was able to figure it out.”
Now that he has graduated, Konneh is looking to work as a sports team manager, he’s hoping for something in soccer, his favorite sport since he was a child.
Konneh’s advice to students who may be struggling with any type of adversity: Education is an investment. Even though it’s hard, especially when life throws a wrench in your plans, the hard work will pay off. ••