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Fatou Dioum

PHOTO-2023-06-03-00-33-35 - Fatou Dioum(1).jpg

The University of Chicago, Class of 2023


What did you think about college before you attended?

I thought it was a place to be free and to explore and learn new things about life. I was also afraid to fail because it seemed so big and almost unattainable.

How do you think being a first generation student affected your college experience?

I had imposter syndrome for 3.5 years out of my 4 years in college. Other students had people, like parents or other family and friends, to guide them through the journey, I didn't and so I always second guessed myself and thought that I was doing something wrong. However, with the help of some organizations on campus and me learning to trust myself I persevered.

What was the most impactful experience during your time in college?              

It was the last quarter of my fourth year, I took a business ethics course and I sat in the front center of the class and I was the first student to raise my hand and participate. It might seem insignificant, however, for me, that moment was everything. Before that, I always second guessed myself, my answers, my intelligence because I never wanted to sound dumb but that day I believed in myself and my intelligence which was a big sign for me. It changed the rest of my time in that class and in the university.

What does it mean to you to have been chosen as a Renaissance Scholar?

It means the world to me. I was in a position where my family could not take on anymore debt and so I either got a lot of scholarships or I went to community college. This issue came about during my last year of high school and for a straight A student like myself, who always dreamed of going to a big school (like the ones I saw in the movies as a teenager) that was very scary and honestly devastating news. However, the Renaissance Scholars program changed that for me. They gave me an opportunity to go to college and to get that experience that I always longed for alongside, getting a pretty awesome degree at a pretty amazing University. And now, I am going to be working in finance (something that is my family's wildest dreams) and I will be able to help my family and especially my siblings in their journeys to higher education. For that, I thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Are you a Renaissance Scholar? Current scholars and alumni can share their stories here. 

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