International Student Serves as Western Student Ambassador
Abdul Cole is from Sierra Leone, West Africa. Leaving a large and loving family and a noble volunteer role, Cole came to Western in 2020, just months before the global pandemic changed everything. As a testament to his fortitude and ability to rise to the challenge of his completely new surroundings, he was chosen as the 2020 Western Technical College Student Ambassador, an official spokesperson for Western and the Wisconsin Technical College System. Cole is also a Diesel and Heavy Equipment Technician program student and is the first in his family to attend college.
Cole chose Western after visiting Western’s website; he was impressed by the student-centric approach to education. After a few classes, Cole finds his experience at Western has been more than he imagined. “I never believed I could make it in college. Where I’m from, many kids never get past high school.” Cole, nervous at first, is now focused, infectiously optimistic, curious, comfortable, and extremely grateful for his opportunity. Many of his instructors find themselves impressed with his wisdom and globally open perspective. “I am extremely grateful for what I learned, and continue to learn, from Abdul,” said Nancee Nelson, Adult Education instructor at Western.
Initially, he heard about Western from a Wisconsin native he met while volunteering on a medical mission ship, the African Mercy. African Mercy is a travelling ship that provides necessary and free medical care to African communities along the Atlantic coast. No doubt this selfless, humbling, and humanistic venture helped make Cole the impressive person he is today. With his 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. He has a lifelong love and talent for fixing things and figuring out how they work.
While finishing his degree, Cole will use his ambassador position to develop leadership and speaking skills. “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, sharing my story with others, and hearing theirs.”
Following graduation, he plans to return to Sierra Leone to start a business in the diesel field, a service he says is sorely needed in his community. He plans to teach others the skills he learned and the ideas he explored while at Western. We are extremely honored Cole chose to make Western his home away from home. Abdul Cole is essentially Western.