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International student captures natural beauty through photography

Collegian | Courtesy of Raymond Kofi Appiah

Raymond Kofi Appiah is a second-year graduate student from Ghana spending his semester in Fort Collins studying sociology with a focus in criminal justice and green criminology through Colorado State University’s International Student and Scholar Services.

While pursuing his master’s degree, Appiah works as both a graduate teaching assistant and research assistant on campus. He hopes to continue researching environmental sustainability and global crimes to attain his Ph.D. in the future. 


“I have been working with some international agencies like (the United Nations Population Fund) and UNICEF that deal with contraceptive distribution and adolescent reproductive health, and I’m trying to proceed to work with some of those key elements like intimate partner violence,” Appiah said. 

“I do photography for fun. I love to be behind the camera and take pictures of people, things, the environment, nature, everything I see that is attractive.” –Raymond Kofi Appiah, international CSU student

Appiah chose to join the international program because he wanted to focus on doing research and meeting people in his field, but the benefits of studying abroad have gone beyond academics for him.

“I have gained a lot in terms of academics, but I’ve actually been able to achieve quite a number in terms of finding myself,” Appiah said. “I’ve been meeting people, going on hikes and going camping. I never thought I would be going hiking as a team activity here.”

“Fort Collins is a great city to be in,” Appiah said. “I like the environment here. Everyone has been very welcoming. … My cousins and my friends back home want to apply here as well, and I tell them, ‘Yes, go ahead. Fort Collins is a great city to be in, and CSU is pretty welcoming to students from around the world.’”

Traveling abroad is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for most students. ISSS offers programs in the fall, spring and summer semesters for almost every major. 

While each student experience is unique, we are committed to offering every CSU Ram access to a global education,” said Emily Kilburg, communications manager for CSU’s Office of International Programs. “Whether that’s through an education abroad program, attending our World Unity Fair or by listening to an international speaker at our Global (Engagement) Distinguished Lecture series.”

Appiah found his place through the ISSS’s social events and the Black/African American Cultural Center on campus. The people he’s met through these organizations help him feel at home, but in his free time, he uses art to tap into his roots.

Before coming to CSU, Appiah wanted to major in photography and now enjoys photographing Colorado’s natural environment. 

“I wanted to be an aerial photographer, but that didn’t happen because drones are now stuck in that position,” Appiah said. “I do photography for fun. I love to be behind the camera and take pictures of people, things, the environment, nature — everything I see that is attractive. I also love music; music is like my therapy. I will listen to any genre, but lately I listen to Afro beats, Ghana rap, hip-hop, highlife to get in touch with my roots.”


Fort Collins’ diverse art and musical scene as well as CSU’s art students often allow international students of any major to feel at home through creativity and community connection. 

“The arts department is a wonderful place to learn about art and grow your artistic practices,” said Aspen Crawford, third-year art major. “It challenges you to be independent in idea generation and execution with guidance from your peers and faculty. I was a transfer student, and the art department at CSU far exceeds the education and training I was receiving at my previous institution.”

“I don’t like to brag, and I want my work to speak for itself, but I gave a presentation on environmental authoritarianism and how China’s investment in Africa and Latin America is impacting the environment,” Appiah said. “I did it with a team, and we won the Global Impact Award as well. It has not published, but it was a great showcase that I wouldn’t have been a part of if not here.” 

Reach Sophia Masia at or on Twitter @sophie_masia.

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