Many people have trouble with time management. Djeneba Diallo is not one of them.
A finance major with an international business minor, Diallo is set to graduate at age 20 — just three and a half years after arriving at The University of Toledo and only four years after coming to the United States for the first time.
Originally from Bamako, the capital city of Mali, Djeneba studied as an exchange student at Toledo’s Start High School, completing her junior and senior years simultaneously before enrolling at UToledo at 16 to start her sprint to a degree. It was a quick, challenging journey, but one she celebrates.
“I would say that I’m pretty proud of myself for graduating from college at 20,” she said. “I would say that is not easy, it’s really hard.”
But the challenge is part of the appeal, and Diallo is well equipped to meet any challenge that comes her way. A trilingual student with an affinity for math, she chose finance because of the unique opportunity to blend her love of numbers with a chance to help people, parsing consumer data to help companies better serve their clients.
“I think that’s what drives me to do those number calculations,” she said. “I’m very much a people person. I’m very extroverted. So, seeing that I can impact someone’s life is very meaningful.”
She’s also quick to credit the UToledo services and organizations built to help students thrive, especially international students. Diallo says spending her college years 5,000 miles from her family was hard, but UToledo made her feel at home.
“I think that UToledo does a good job of integrating international students,” she said. “For example, I’m Muslim, and occasionally I need to pray on campus. We have a prayer room in Snyder Memorial that I can use, and I think it’s great that they think about all the sides of every issue and really try to make you feel a part of the community as much as they can.”
She’s taking that same approach to her future career, something that hasn’t escaped the notice of UToledo’s Associate Vice President and Dean of Students Sammy Spann.
“With her passion to help others and her desire to succeed, Djeneba will have a profound impact in the world of finance and business,” Spann said. “She will promote teamwork, bring about compassion and become a change agent.”
Diallo intends to begin her career in corporate finance before eventually moving into nonprofit work, potentially on the international level. She’ll use her math background to make financial decisions designed to improve life for as many people as possible. And however long it takes, Diallo said she’ll be happy if she changes just one person’s life for the better.
“That impact, how I affect the population directly, how I am impacting someone’s life, actually seeing the results, being hands-on — that’s what drives me,” she said. “Really helping people and seeing those results is what makes my day.”