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Impact  >  Student Story



Youssou and his family moved from Senegal to Durham a few years ago. Although he previously earned his Senegalese high school diploma, the North Carolina college system did not accept it as an enrollment credential. Fortunately, the Youth Education Program at Durham Literacy enabled him to study for his high school equivalency (HSE) diploma--his ticket to NC colleges--while also working long hours to support his family. 


The English language was Youssou’s main barrier to completing the HSE material. He speaks French and other languages fluently, making English his fifth! He already had a grasp of many of the HSE concepts, having learned them in Senegal, but needed the English vocabulary to be able to demonstrate his knowledge on tests. 


As a YEP student, Youssou also enrolled in the NC Works NextGen program and was placed in an internship at a biochemical company. Although this was initially an entry-level position, Youssou’s language abilities allowed him to do high-level translation work for conference calls and other company business. He made himself indispensable and soon secured long-term, living-wage employment.


Meanwhile, Youssou’s English became more fluent and he began to pass his HSE subject tests. Youssou passed his last test just in time to register for the fall semester at Wake Tech. He plans to transfer to NC State after two years, where he will pursue a degree in biochemical engineering.

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