TC At Work: Frederick Awity | Teachers College Columbia University

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TC At Work: Frederick Awity

Frederick Awity is a Public Safety Officer who currently works the 4pm to 12am shift.

Who He is
Frederick Awity is a Public Safety Officer who currently works the 4pm to 12am shift.

Road to TC
Born in Accra, Ghana, Awity was first introduced to American culture at the Catholic boarding school he attended, which was run by brothers of the Holy Cross, who were New Yorkers.  “I learned about black culture in America by watching movies and basketball, and also listening to music,” Awity says.  He found the music especially compelling – particularly Diana Ross, Kool and the Gang, and the Commodores. After a stint at an art school in Accra, Awity moved to London for six months and got interested in bodybuilding. Upon returning to Ghana, he began modeling, doing everything from runway to print ads to television commercials. When Revlon arrived in Ghana, he was chosen to model for their new ad campaign.

Awity moved to New York City in 1992 to try his hand at modeling here, but work proved harder to find. He turned to security, working for smaller companies in gigs such as the Macy’s Day Parade and the construction of JC Penney’s in the Bronx. In 1996, he took a job with the boutique hotel chain formerly known as “Manhattan East.”

Eventually, Awity sought a steady position in a union shop, working first at the famed City Centre, as the performance space’s Fire Safety Director, before applying to TC in 2008. During his job interview, Awity bonded with John de Angelis, TC’s Director of Public Safety, over a mutual love of running.  

Outstanding Contribution to TC
This past January, Awity was given a commendation for his work in apprehending a group of would-be thieves who were trying to remove a computer from Zankel Hall. When he confronted them at the front desk, they ran off, but left the computer behind. A few days later, he was at the front post in Whittier when he noticed the same group on the monitor, trying to get into the building. He called for backup, and the suspects were apprehended.  “I was just doing what I have to do,” Awity says modestly.

In His Spare Time
Awity is a serious runner who has completed two half-marathons and set his sights on going the full distance. He also spends time with his wife, Nana, whom he originally met in Ghana. Four years ago, before they were married, he was returning to the States and offered to put Nana’s name into the Green Card lottery. When Nana was granted her Green Card, Awity thought, “This is it.” The couple have a three year old daughter, Nora Dzifa, whose first name means “light” in the English language and whose second name means “My heart is at peace in Ewe in Ghanaian language.”

Did You Know?
An avid fan of smooth jazz, Awity posts new selections and videos on his Facebook page, under the name “Ato Awity.” His page has attracted visitors from all over the world. His favorite artists are Marcus Miller, George Benson, Wayman Tisdale (yes, the former NBA basketball player) and Earl Klugh. He recently met Klugh and Bob James at the Blue Note -- “a dream come true.” His dream is to host a Web music radio show: “I love posting new music that people might never have heard of before.”  

Published Monday, Aug. 15, 2011


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