Abdul Cole, of Sierra Leone, West Africa, has been selected as the 2020-21 Western Technical college Student Ambassador, an official spokesperson for Western and the Wisconsin Technical College System (WTCS).
As Student Ambassador, Cole will have opportunities to speak to potential students, community leaders, community groups, and others, and will spotlight the important role of technical and occupational education to the economy and society. In addition, he will represent Western at the state level by working with other student ambassadors throughout the WTCS.
Cole is a Diesel and Heavy Equipment Technician program student, who is the first in his family to attend college. He first heard about Western from a Wisconsin resident he met on a mission ship that provides free medical care to African communities along the Atlantic Ocean. With his new friend’s parents as his sponsor, Cole spent two years obtaining a visa before travelling to La Crosse to achieve his dream of learning to repair diesel technology and equipment and earning a college degree.
Cole said he persuaded to travel to the United States to attend Western after visiting the college’s website, which he said conveyed the message of student success. Since beginning classes in August of last year, he says his experience at Western has been more than he imagined.
“I never used to believe I could make it in college,” said Cole. “Where I come from, many kids never get past high school. It’s a huge opportunity for me and my family. I’m so comfortable here at Western. They truly want you to succeed.”
“While a bit nervous at the beginning, Abdul was always 100 percent focused, infectiously optimistic, curious, and extremely grateful for his educational opportunities,” said Nancee Nelson, Adult Education instructor at Western. “I, too, am extremely grateful for what I learned, and continue to learn, from Abdul.”
Cole hopes to use this opportunity to develop his leadership and speaking skills, while expressing the importance of career and technical education across the state.
“I am so grateful for Western Technical College,” said Cole. “This place has offered me so many chances to learn different cultures and backgrounds. I look forward to meeting with new people as the ambassador and sharing my story with others.”
Cole intends to complete his education in 2021. Following graduation, he plans to return to Sierra Leone to begin a business in the diesel field, and teaching others the skills he has learned at Western.