2009 grad earns B.S.N. while building successful modeling career
Originally from the West African nation of Ghana, Stefanie Gerda Asante-Totimeh, 31, graduated from Inver Hills Community College in 2009 with an Associate of Science (A.S.) in Nursing. Stefi grew up alternating between two cities, Accra, Ghana’s capital and principal seaport, and Kumasi, a metropolitan cultural center two hours inland from Accra by car. Both cities have populations topping two million people.
After graduating in 2003 from Achimota School, a co-educational boarding school in Accra, Stefi decided to move to the U.S. to advance her education. She stayed with her uncle, who had already relocated to America and was residing in Inver Grove Heights, only blocks from Inver Hills.
Stefi arrived in Minnesota fluent in two languages, English, Ghana’s official language, and Asante Twi, the first or second language of more than 9 million ethnic Asante. Renowned as goldsmiths for centuries, the Asante fiercely resisted British colonization. Today, they flourish as a matrilineal society and as exemplary agriculturists, producing the lion’s share of their country’s food supply. The Asante people are also responsible for 96 percent of Ghana’s exports.
Stefi was raised Catholic in a bustling, cosmopolitan environment with a rich cultural heritage. Her parents made sure she went on countless learning excursions during her formative years. She also traveled extensively outside Africa (she has relatives living in England). Her upbringing and natural confidence made for a smooth transition to life in the U.S.
“I came to the United States with plans to get an education that would allow me do something to help people,” Stefi said. “Inver Hills gave me the chance to do just that. The campus was so close to home that I often walked to school.”
Inver Hills years and modeling
When she started at Inver, Stefi focused on completing her generals. She was active in Student Life, serving as a student ambassador. She soon joined Phi Theta Kappa and the International Student Club.
“I was single and I loved getting involved in Student Life activities,” Stefi remembered. “I went on a lot of college-related trips, including one trip to a PTK event in Seattle. I met my future husband, Tetteh, through my job as a student ambassador.”
Three words that describe you as a model:
CREATIVE. TRENDSETTER. DIFFERENT.
Stefi discovered her passion for modeling while doing photo shoots for Inver Hills publications. She followed that career track and has since signed with several modeling and talent agencies, including Meredith, Ruggiero, Caryn, Moore and Peak. Her focus is commercial modeling.
“I like doing work that will be seen by everyday people,” she said. “I want them to be able to imagine themselves wearing the clothes I’m modeling. I want them to say, ‘Yeah, I can see myself buying that.'”
Stefi had less time for extracurricular activities once she started the Nursing program. Nursing clicked with her as the perfect answer to her calling to serve people in need. Shortly after graduating from Inver, she passed her NCLEX-RN exam and became a practicing registered nurse.
Stefi’s first job as an RN was at Highland Chateau Health Care Center in St. Paul. She was responsible for delivering care to 40 elderly patients. Her next job took her to Capitol View Transitional Care Center located in Regions Hospital. She enjoyed the work and the benefits were instrumental in caring for her firstborn son, Kwasi, who required two heart surgeries in his first year of life. Kwasi suffers from Charge syndrome, a rare genetic disorder that can cause congenital deafblindness.
“Good health insurance is so important,” Stefi said. “Without my benefits at Capitol View, we would have gone bankrupt. Kwasi is my miracle boy.”
Three words that describe you as a nurse:
ADVOCATE. MENTOR. EDUCATOR.
In 2014, Stefi earned her Bachelor of Science in Nursing (B.S.N.) from Bemidji State University. She completed her classes online and attended the BSU commencement ceremony in Bemidji. She has also earned Medical-Surgical, Public Health Nurse, and Minnesota Health Information Training Clinical Systems Specialist certifications.
Today, she works as a critical care nurse in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) at United Hospital in St. Paul. She provides palliative and critical care while serving as an advocate for patients and their families.
“The patients we see are in really bad shape,” she said. “Our first job is trying to stabilize their condition. We try to make them as comfortable as possible. You can’t become emotionally involved when working with dying patients. I’ve learned to keep my emotions in check—otherwise I would not be able to do my job.”
More about Stefi…
Stefi’s long-range career plans are centered on earning her Doctor of Nursing Practice (D.N.P.). Her goal is to combine her nursing skills and business expertise to make a difference in the mental health field.
“Mental health has a powerful impact in all areas of health care,” she said. “I would like to go back to Ghana at some point and start a business that helps people dealing with mental health issues.”
Stefi and her husband, Tetteh, a registered nurse with a B.S.N. as well, reside in Eagan, Minnesota, with their two children, Kwasi, 5, and Adwoa, 8 months. Stefi and Tetteh were originally married in a courthouse, but they returned to Ghana for a holy matrimony ceremony in 2011. Tetteh is also from Africa; his dad is from Ghana, his mom from Liberia.
Three words that describe you as a mom:
PROVIDER. STYLISH. ENTERTAINER.
Stefi’s dad recently traveled from Ghana to Eagan to help out with the family. “My dad is an amazing grandpa,” Stefi said. “He provides awesome support.” Stefi added that her mom had to stay in Ghana to run her own small business, a daycare center called Tickles & Giggles.
When she’s not working as a nurse or modeling or being a mom, Stefi likes to read fiction and nonfiction. A couple of her favorite books are The Power of Broke by Daymond John, the founder of a multibillion dollar global lifestyle brand, and Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, a Nigerian-born author.
Stefi likes to organize parties and events and she loves traveling. She also has a passion for mentoring aspiring nurses and models. She makes a point of going to the gym often to stretch, do aerobics and lift weights, free and machine. “I have guns,” she said with a smile while flexing her right arm.
Stefi Q & A
Why did you choose nursing as your career field?
I chose nursing due to evolving roles and opportunities where I can be a patient advocate and provider.
What do you love most about nursing?
I love being able to bring a smile to my patients and their families and being able to be a role model to many people of color who see me as a nurse and believe they can also achieve this goal or other academic pursuits.
What do you love most about modeling?
Modeling is my avenue to show the creative and vivacious side of me.
You can like Stefi on Facebook by visiting:
Or view her Instagram photos by visiting:
Stefanie, RN BSN@stylishmom_nurse
What has been your toughest challenge in life?
Balancing work, family life and my baccalaureate program in 2012 when I found out my son, Kwasi, had numerous medical conditions. He had two heart surgeries within his first year of birth.
What is your greatest accomplishment?
Being a mom to two wonderful kids.
“My family is my rock. They keep pushing me to be the best.”
— Stefi Gerda Asante-Totimeh
What person (or persons) has influenced you the most in life?
What would you tell someone considering nursing as a career path?
Nursing is a profession with many roles. You can choose anything you are comfortable with doing—from bedside nursing to school nursing to even being a legal nurse consultant.
What would you tell someone considering modeling as a career path?
Have fun with it and sign up with a reputable agency—or take a risk and be a freelance model. You should also be aware of fraudsters who want to coerce you into signing phony deals or taking pictures you are not comfortable with.
Stefi | 21 Answers
- Favorite season: Spring
- Favorite natural feature (e.g., waterfalls, oceans, mountains, etc.): Waterfalls, especial Boti Falls, a twin waterfall in Ghana
- Favorite sport or physical activity: Soccer; I love watching the World Cup; Tetteh, my husband, plays soccer and he’s very good.
- Your national bird if you could have one: Martial eagle (native to Ghana; largest eagle in Africa)
- Place you would most like to visit: Seychelles
- Favorite holiday: Thanksgiving
- Your national mammal if you could have one: African elephant
- Favorite actor or actress: Kerry Washington
- Favorite band or performing artist: Bruno Mars (USA), Davido (Nigeria) Sarkodie (Ghana)
- Your personal motto if you had to have one: “Work hard, fight hard and dance even harder.”
- Coolest thing in the world: Zip-lines (Stefi’s first zip-line experience was during an Inver Hills field trip up north.)
- Scariest thing in the world: Snakes (any kind of snake)
- Favorite all-time TV show: Scandal
- Favorite all-time movie: Titanic
- One thing you most want to accomplish in life: Champion a movement where special-needs kids, racial disparities and mental health topics are leading news in the media!
- Most precious material possession: My childhood stuffed teddy bear, Martin, who is older than me. My dad brought him to me from Ghana.
- First thing you would buy if you won the $1.5 billion Powerball: A family vacation to the beautiful island of Seychelles
- Dream occupation: Activist lawyer championing human rights
- Person you would most like to meet: Barack Obama
- Skill you would most like to learn and master: Swim
- Humankind’s greatest challenge: Accepting people for who they are irrespective of their race, religion or socioeconomic background
Director of Nursing
To learn more about Student Life at Inver Hills, contact:
Director of Student Life and Activities
Associate Director of Student Life
Student Life Activities Coordinator