As an international student in the United States, Amadou Dia has faced many challenges to find academic success.

At the age of six, Amadou had to leave his parents and small town behind to pursue an education in Dakar, Senegal. There, he was able to live with his uncle and go to school.

In 2016, he graduated from high school but knew he had more to do. With much enthusiasm, Amadou enrolled in college in Senegal and became one of its best students.

While traveling to Uganda for conferences, he became inspired to continue his education. But soon after, he had to hit pause due to unforeseen circumstances. Although his education was temporarily halted, Amadou knew he had to move forward. His uncle suggested that he take his talents to the United States.

Soon enough, Amadou was back in the classroom taking English as a Second Language (ESL) classes and planning his next steps, which led him to Olive-Harvey College. He also played soccer and wanted to pursue the sport at the collegiate level while still working on his degree. This led him to Kennedy-King College, where he played for a season and completed his degree in HVAC.

With the help of  Michael Johns, Director of Student Activities, Amadou discovered the Student Government Association (SGA), becoming its president for two semesters.

“It was my first opportunity on campus to build a strong relationship with students, professors, staff, and faculty members at City Colleges. Serving in SGA helped me develop my networking and leadership skills while I learned,” he said.

Always goal-oriented, Amadou soon heard about the Tech Launchpad located at Kennedy-King College. After speaking with Director Lynette Correa-Velez, he decided obtaining a certification in cybersecurity would be his next academic goal.

Like many other students, Amadou had limited finances, which led him to do research on how to lessen the financial burden. He discovered City Colleges’ Tech Equity program. Through the program, Amadou received free home internet through the Chicago Connected program, as well as a laptop that he could later own through City Colleges’ Learn to Own laptop program. Both programs helped Amadou focus on his education instead of his finances.

“Chicago Connected has helped me stay connected to the world in a demanding society that requires access to the internet and a computer. I strongly recommend students meeting the criteria apply for the Tech Equity programs as a second financial aid because it can help tremendously,” Amadou said.

No longer needing to travel to a campus lab during the winter, Amadou can now attend classes virtually and connect with his classmates and the world from the comfort of his home. He is excited to see what the future holds for him once he completes his certification in cybersecurity.