A Story of Mentorship, Opportunity and Scholarly Self-Perseverance

Originally from Guinea, Ahmadou Sidibe was a student in Moscow while his loved ones resided here in Philadelphia. After countless conversations with his father and sisters about life and school, and the overwhelming feeling of missing his family, Ahmadou finally made the move, joining them in 2019. After settling in, conversations of continuing school would become a popular topic for him and his sister, who suggested the College--but Ahmadou wasn’t initially interested.

So how does he feel now that he’s graduating with a 4.0 GPA and a degree in Engineering Science from CCP? 

“Attending Community College of Philadelphia was the best decision I've ever made,” he says. “I met my mentor, and that was the greatest thing that happened to me.” 

Ahmadou followed his sister’s advice and enrolled at the College in the spring of 2021. He was then virtually introduced to his Black Scholars Program mentor, Debbie Polekoff, coordinator of  Educational Support Services Operations. 

“Since the day she reached out to me, we have been in touch,” he says about his connection with Debbie. “Through the program, she helped me stay on track by monitoring my work and progress at school. She was so in tune that there were times she would reach out with information or congratulating me on my success, and I would think, ‘Wait, how does she know that?’” 

“Debbie did everything she could to make sure I succeeded,” Ahmadou says. “In 2021, I lost my father. She was the one who really helped me work through that. It took me about two weeks to recover and get back into the swing of things and she checked on me daily, reminding me to continue my journey.”

Part of the journey included giving back. Debbie encouraged Ahmadou to sign up as a tutor in the Learning Lab, where he would become a part-time tutor.

“I love being a tutor because I am a part of a positive change that helps students succeed in classes like math and physics,” he says. “Being a part of that process and giving back to my community is rewarding for me.”

As a student, Ahmadou was purposeful about his major and his path, especially after selecting a major that interested him but would also challenge him. He knew it wouldn’t be easy, but that success was possible—thanks, in part, to resources like financial aid, scholarships and summer courses. 

Ahmadou began completing the College’s single scholarship application each year, which granted him helpful scholarships to continue his studies. Additionally, his plan incorporated summer courses, which were funded in part by financial aid. Taking additional courses during the summer helped Ahmadou lessen his course loads for the following semesters, allowing him to focus on more challenging courses. As a result, Ahmadou regularly encouraged his classmates and peers to apply for scholarships.

“Everything I've received at CCP is something that motivates me to keep going,” he explains. “It makes me want to keep excelling. I came here with nothing and I'm going to get my associate degree with no debt. It's an institution of hope for so many students. CCP has allowed me to become a great student and citizen. It has truly been a transformative experience.”

Ahmadou will attend a local four-year university and hopes to stay connected to the College’s Learning Lab.