GSU valedictorian completes one of a kind journey


The Fall 2018 valedictorian for Grambling State University celebrates not only academic success, but also a one-of-a-kind journey on this fall’s graduation stage.

Lala Aicha Coulibaly graduates with a 3.91 cumulative GPA, majoring in computer science, and with fluency in three languages: French, English, and her native tongue, Bambara, which she grew up speaking in Bamako, Mali.  Mali is 5,500 miles from Grambling State University and Coulibaly shared some of her story with her fellow students.

“I spent three months learning English prior to enrolling in GSU,” said Coulibaly. “There were times when I didn’t think this day would ever happen. I doubted my ability to communicate effectively, and there are no other students or professors here that speak Bambara. I worked hard, and I’m so thankful to everyone here at GSU who helped me and encouraged me.”

For Coulibaly, this Fall’s graduation is about more than honors or a degree. After not returning home since 2015, she will get to celebrate with her father who will make a 15-hour flight to see her walk the stage.

“I really admire her for the active role she took in her studies and completion of her projects. She is truly a stand-out individual who will impress everyone she meets,” said Dr. Prasanthi Sreekumari, Assistant Professor of Department of Computer Science. “It has been a pleasure teaching such a polite, talented, hardworking and dedicated student.  I wish all success in her future endeavors.”

In addition to her honor as top graduate, Coulibaly and her father also celebrate a number of her recent accomplishments which include:

  • participating on the second place Winning Team in the 2017 Bayou Classic BizTech Challenge;
  • winning second place in the Digital and Media Technologies category in the 2018 Bayou Classic BizTech Challenge; and
  • writing the winning essay and receiving a WISE Scholarship at Grambling State.

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