As the youngest in my family, I had the good fortune to be given an education. I was born in Mali, West Africa, into a very poor family where women have limited privileges. I was seven years old when my mother passed away and I was lucky enough to be raised by my grandmother in Senegal, West Africa. As the youngest girl of seven children, my grandmother was very determined to give me a good education, which was never granted to any of my brothers and sisters. She believed that by sending me to school, her unfulfilled dreams, would in a way, come true. She had a strong faith in my unrealized strengths and abilities. I completed my elementary education in Senegal, and at the age of fourteen, I was sent to live with my aunt in France. There was where I continued my schooling and my dream today, is to become a social work and work with immigrants and refugees. I came to this country almost six years ago with that hope burning in my heart.
My name is Safiatou Coulibaly and I received my Master of Science in Social Work; with concentration in Advanced Generalist Practice and Programming (AGPP) and a field of practice in International Social Welfare for Immigrants and Refugees with a minor in Law.
Coming to Columbia was one of the most important actions that I have taken because of my background and financial restriction. However, being a young African female, coming to Columbia creates limitless professional opportunities. Columbia gave me the opportunity to grow emotionally and socially, therefore, helped me think differently. I believe that even in this age of digital communication and individual learning, we still need people to help us, challenge us, and guide us, and that is what Columbia did for me. The people I met there were people I would NEVER come across - not even in industry networking. In Columbia, I had such a wide range of experiences that I truly believed I was learning something new every single day.
Columbia is the perfect school for any student that has an interest in diversity. I have came to so many different types of people, and they all had their own unique interests and talents, and it was great to see how we could all come together in one classroom. I am grateful for having teachers who were passionate about the learning and knowledge of their students. There is nothing better than knowing that you are surrounded by people who love to learn and work hard to achieve their goals, because this only helped make my own goals seem more feasible. With my education at Columbia, I felt empowered to envision a better world than the one that confronted me before I went to Columbia. Columbia equipped me with the knowledge, tools, and experiences to make change. Columbia gave me the knowledge and skills to participate in society in a meaningful and productive way. As a citizen of the world, I owe it to every single person I come across, to make a difference because Columbia gave me all I needed.