Life as a full-time engineering student is already challenging, especially for a first-generation college student. Combined with financially supporting numerous family members on two continents, Djibril Diol has needed exceptionally hard work, perseverance, and patience. His hard work pays off this month when he graduates from the Walter Scott, Jr. College of Engineering with a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering.
The road to being the first in his family to earn a degree was long, and he worked to meet both his educational needs and family obligations, financially supporting relatives in both the U.S. and his native Senegal.
“I think it makes you a more responsible person,” Diol says of shouldering such heavy responsibilities. “I’m grateful that I’ve pushed this far, and having my goals and passions behind all of this pushes me to do more.”
Using what he learned in his engineering courses and a summer internship for Larimer County, his goal is to build roads and infrastructure in rural Senegal, where existing resources are underdeveloped, with mostly dirt roads and rough terrain.
Before realizing his goals for Senegal, Diol wants to get more industry experience in the U.S. and potentially earn a graduate degree. His real-world experience inspecting unpaved roads and sidewalks for Larimer County, combined with more education, could lead to significant changes back home.
“You can learn from the bigger picture here in the U.S., and apply it to the smaller picture back home,” he said. “You learn things you didn’t think about doing before, things you can apply to the places you want to build tomorrow.”
His membership in two student organizations, the National Society of Black Engineers and Africans United, helped him grow as a person while on campus, and his involvement helped him connect with other students, both locally and nationally.
Diol attended the NSBE national convention earlier this year, engaging with engineering students across varied disciplines and nationalities. He even unexpectedly met with another student from Senegal, who is studying electrical engineering.
In addition to his engineering studies, Diol has written three plays for Africans United, portraying ideas about Africa that people might not know. “I always want to make an impact wherever I go,” he says. “In the bigger picture, patience and perseverance will make the right things happen.”