June 2011

Donald GWIRA '85

As we celebrate the end of another successful year at AUP, we turn our Spotlight on Donald Gwira ’85, from the American College in Paris.  Originally from Accra, Ghana, Donald was an international traveler from a very early age.  Having a father who worked in the diplomatic service, he resided in a number of various regions such as Sierra Leone, the United Kingdom and the former Yugoslavia.  After doing his secondary education in Ghana, he continued his undergraduate studies at AUP, followed by a graduate program at Howard University in Washington D.C.

In 1992, Donald returned to Ghana and established his own business called D.G. Ice Cubes.  “As the name suggests, we produced and marketed ice cubes to hoteliers, restaurants and the general public.”  In 2005, he closed the enterprise due to “irregular and inadequate supply of utility services, water and electricity.”  Having run D.G. Ice Cubes as a side venture, Donald also worked as the head of administration for the Institute of Science and Technology Information, holding various positions including communications manager for West Africa.  During 1996 to 1998, he “hosted and produced a current affairs program called Bridging the Gap on Ghana Television.”  In recognition for his efforts, he was acknowledged “as part of 36 exemplary leaders in a book entitled Leading Coherently: Reflections from Leaders around the World” (2004).

Following his years at the Institute of Science and Technology Information, Donald began working as a corporate communications manager for Guinness Ghana Breweries Ltd, a subsidiary of Diageo and the world’s largest producer of spirits.  Recently, in April 2011, Donald was selected as the new Head of Corporate Communications and External Affairs for Airtel Ghana, one of the world’s top 5 mobile communications companies.  (Click here to read more.)

In discussing his journey to AUP, Donald explains:

"Ghana is an English speaking country surrounded by French speaking ones. Naturally, to make one’s mark in the international community one has to learn French. When the opportunity came for me to study abroad, I chose the American College in Paris, now the American University in Paris, because I believed it gave me the opportunity to continue to study in English, to study and live in a French environment and, at the same time, benefit from AUP’s International Affairs programme and its diversity and multicultural environment."

Furthermore, when recounting his memories of Paris, Donald describes living in the city, as a “dream come true” for a student of international affairs.  He elaborates by saying:

"It broadened my outlook on life, exposed me to different cultures and cuisines and added a notch of sophistication to my appreciation of the finer things in life . . . Living and studying in Paris gave me a better understanding of the inner workings of the French system of government, administration and culture and, thereby, a better appreciation of the politics, economy and culture of Francophone Africa."

In considering what he values most about his experience at AUP, Donald states:

"Its central location that is easily accessible; quality of education and the sense of caring that it afforded its students.  I had a great counselor, Mrs. Kessler, who mentored me during my stay.  I also had great professors notably, Dean Baskin, Mr. Ryer, Mrs. Wulf, Prof. Godt, Dr. Stoll, Dr. Clayton (my landlord) and Dr. Latham.  I am proud to be an alumnus of AUP and will always look back with nostalgia on my time there."

Many thanks to Donald for being in our Spotlight!  If you would like to read more information, review or share photos, as well as reconnect with others from the ACP years, you may visit our site at The American College in Paris 1962 – 1988, by clicking here.

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