Real Story: Assetou Gassama

Assetou Gassama

Current Student, NursingSelfie of CSM student Assetou Gassama with the Capitol Rotunda in the background

 I earned a bachelor’s degree in business management in Mali in West Africa, which is where I’m from. I have been living in the United States for almost three years now; I arrived in July 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic.

I initially settled in Charlotte, North Carolina, where I spent a year and gave birth to my second child, a daughter. Unfortunately, there were complications during her birth, resulting in two abdominal surgeries. It was during this time spent in the hospital with my daughter that I developed an ardent desire to become a nurse.

I moved to Waldorf in early September 2021 and began taking an English as a Second Language (ESL) class at CSM in February 2022, with Linda McLaughlin and her assistant, Romaine Springer.

When I started, I was at Level 4. I learned very quickly, and McLaughlin provided me with the foundation I have today. Although I understood the language very well in theory, my practical skills were catastrophic, especially my pronunciation. Since I was not working and did not go out much, I did not have many opportunities to practice my English.

However, I started attending the conversation class on Fridays with Yvette Dahl and her assistant Guadalupe. The Friday class allowed me to improve and practice my English without embarrassment or judgment. Over time, I had the chance to meet Vickie Brosky for a summer class focused on healthcare, and she has never stopped believing in me and encouraging me.

Afterwards, I took another class with Terri—Adult Basic Education (ABE) and GED Test Preparation—which served as a bridge between ESL and taking college-level classes at CSM.

Just after this class, I enrolled at CSM, which initially was not easy. The classes were demanding and difficult, and I had a rocky start—I had to drop one of my first two classes due to a family tragedy. However, I persisted with The Academic Essay, taught by professor Kim Donnelly, and finished with a B. I’ve now taken sociology and geography and am continuing with biology and English.

My goal is to obtain my degree as a registered nurse. Many people would like to do the same, but they often worry about the financial cost. Know that there is financial aid and student loans available that can help you pay for your courses and books.

Personally, I have been fortunate to come across exceptional people who have guided and supported me in achieving my goals. If you are considering transitioning from ESL to college, I encourage you to go to CSM and speak with Shelby Potts in Admissions or Jennifer Mitchell in Adult Education to help you reach your objective. Remember that if I could do it, you can, too.


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Last updated: 6-26-23

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