- MBA, University of Baltimore
- Author of The Shimmigrant and Same Elephants
- Education and literacy advocate
- Founder of nonprofit Girls for STEAM and creator of MarjyTV
Author Marjorie Boafo Appiah, MBA ’07, publishes her novels under the name Marjy Marj. It’s an upbeat moniker that accurately reflects her enthusiasm for her many ventures. In addition to writing a series of novels based on the immigrant experience, Boafo Appiah is the founder of the nonprofit Girls for STEAM. She’s also a management consultant who works with local businesses and host of a video streaming channel, Marjy TV.
Boafo Appiah was born in Ghana and moved to the United States in her early twenties. “I am as Ghanaian as jollof rice and as American as apple pie,” she says. “Home is wherever you become part of your community.”
Boafo Appiah initially lived with an uncle in New York and then moved to Baltimore to attend UB. “I have fond memories of my MBA studies,” she says. “When my son Adom attended a camp at The John Hopkins University, we visited the UB campus. I took my Dad as well, when he visited from Ghana.”
Boafo Appiah and her physician husband lived in Arkansas before relocating to their current city of Spartanburg, South Carolina. There she founded Girls for STEAM (STEAM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math) with friends from high school. The organization promotes educational activities for youth ages 6 to 18 in the United States and Ghana.
“I am passionate about representation, that kids see themselves in stories. And for children who often do not own books, there is a special feeling when they can say ‘this book is mine.’”
“We provide mentors and resources,” she explains. “It’s wonderful to see children get so excited about whatever they are doing—coding, dance, spelling, math, debate—and help the future generation to dream and aspire to achieve great heights.”
One initiative of Girls for STEAM, Giving Book Day, regularly distributes books by authors of color. The project began when Boafo Appiah noticed that her local Barnes and Noble had boxes of unsold books to donate. The initiative also partners with Project Lit Ghana, which provides books by authors of African descent to children and young adults in that country. “Every day is Giving
Book Day!” she says. “I am passionate about representation, that kids see themselves in stories. And for children who often do not own books, there is a special feeling when they can say ‘this book is mine.’”
Boafo Appiah created Marjy TV, which streams via YouTube and Facebook, as a vehicle to provide inspirational content and discuss “everyday issues impacting the human race,” she says. Recent interviewees have addressed topics such as how to have difficult conversations and how to support frontline workers through music. She also hosted a series focusing on youth called “Everyday Heroes.”
Boafo Appiah’s first novel, The Shimmigrant, tells the story of Obaa Yaa Sasha, a young woman who emigrates to the United States and becomes a maidservant. “If you are bold enough to relocate to America and pledge allegiance to the flag, you are American, and yet immigrants are judged,” Boafo Appiah says. “We need to share stories of those who persevere against the odds, to inspire, motivate and encourage.” Her latest novel, Same Elephants, continues Sasha’s story as four friends from diverse backgrounds come together to educate their community about the dangers of stereotyping.
Her new book is set in both the United States and Ghana. “There is a lot about culture people will appreciate, and it deals with some sensitive issues,” she continues. “I think my American, African, international and diverse readers will be quite pleased.”
With her full, and fun, schedule, Boafo Appiah says she finds time to write wherever she can. “Early in the morning, after work, before my kid’s games, in the car—I write whenever the opportunity presents itself.”