The first thing you notice about Denise is her smile, that infectious energy that seems to inject life into any and every situation she finds herself in. She is a notorious team-player, and has successfully carried this team-spirit all the way from the hallowed halls of Wesley Girls’ High School to forge a career that masterfully blends public health and customer support.
Together with Yehoda Martei and Sharon Owusu-Darko, Denise Twum was acclaimed as a spectacular contestant of the historic Wesley Girls’ 1999 NSMQ team – the first all-girls team to make it to the Grand Finale. Since then, Denise has grown into an adroit advocate, who currently dabbles in customer support, knitting, public health, and Kpop (for now).
Life after the NSMQ
After wow-ing the nation with her display at the NSMQ, Denise took a course in cake making and decoration for fun, as she didn’t want to waste the time she had at home.
After completing that (delicious) course, she volunteered to teach General and Agricultural Science at Pantang Village JSS, as the school was understaffed. During that time, Denise also organized a book drive to get books into the hands of her students.
Denise pursued her tertiary education at Dartmouth College and later Amherst College (both in the USA) where she graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Biology and Women’s & Gender studies, and a minor in Education.
After graduating from college and receiving a Watson Fellowship to pursue independent research on responses to domestic violence in 5 countries (UK, India, Trinidad, Uganda and South Africa), she decided to pursue graduate training in the use of Social and Behavioral Interventions to improve health. During her year abroad, Denise came to the realization that listening to people’s stories could provide insight into how health decisions were made, thus helping design more effective health interventions and improvement programs.
Upon completion of her Watson Year, Denise went on to acquire a Master of Health Science in International Health, with a focus on Social and Behavioural Interventions from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, also in the USA.
2 Careers in 1?
What do public health and customer support have in common? Denise answers this question aptly, citing her love for being around people and her knack for helping them solve their problems as the link between these seemingly disparate careers. From her undergraduate days, Denise has a proven track-record as a multi-talented individual, impressively balancing her studies with extra-curricular activities such as Co-Director of the Amherst College Gospel Choir among others.
“I’ve worn quite a few hats so far in my career (some at the same time), and I look forward to trying on a few more for size.”
Denise’s professional career has seen her apply her public health knowledge and affable personal nature in customer support at a variety of organisations. Early into her career, she realized that the interviewing and analytical skills she had acquired during her public health training made her a great Customer Support Advocate. She could listen to customers’ problems, empathize with and soothe their woes, and share their feedback with her team. This feedback informed the next iteration of the product/service, ensuring that customers were happy and returned to their product.
A passion for passion
One of the most impressive details of Denise’s life is how effortlessly she embodies her passions. For instance, during her year as Watson Fellow, she spent a year travelling to five countries where she studied responses to domestic violence. She used all the airport wait times and layovers to practice her (then newly acquired) knitting skill. By the end of the year, she was a veritable knitter. You can check out NiseyKnits knitwear by Denise.
Her instagram feed is another indicator of her passions, showcasing her love for food and documenting her many #foodie exploits.
Denise is married to Twum Djin, who was on Achimota School’s NSMQ 1999 team (* wink wink *) and they have two children.
A day in the life of Denise sees her masterfully juggling her time between her day job at SmugMug, creating some amazing hand-made knitwear for NiseyKnits – her knitting business – and spending delightful quality time with her family.
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