Twelve years ago, Fatoumata “Fifi” Doumbouya lived in the tiny West African nation of Guinea-Conakry where French is the official language. At the time, she was in her 20s and never could have imagined that by 2014 she would become a U.S. Citizen, fluent in English and the recipient of a post-graduate degree. Fifi and forty-one of her classmates walked across the stage at The Indian Summer Golf & Country Club in Lacey, Washington on Thursday evening to accept their diplomas.
In 2002, Fifi married Almamy Sylla, a current U.S. citizen, and the two moved to the states where they opened Seattle’s West African Market, a premiere provider of food from the continent. By 2006, Fifi was sworn in as a U.S. Citizen and then turned her attention to her education, and the bigger picture in life. “Back in my country, I received my master’s degree in art and human sciences from Gamal Abdel Nasser University, which is the national university of Guinea,” said Fifi. “However, in Guinea-Conakry, our master’s degrees are the equivalent of a bachelor’s degree, so it was natural that I further my education once I was settled in America.”
Fifi enrolled at Brandman University’s Lacey, Washington campus and earned a master’s in organizational leadership. Rather than remain in the family business, Fifi is hoping to give back to a community that has made her feel so welcome since she immigrated from Guinea-Conakry. “I want to work in social services with the needy and disadvantaged, and be a humanitarian.” said Fifi.
Tonya Samuels, who earned her master’s in psychology, was also featured at the Lacey commencement. She provided the Invocation and Benediction with Dr. Glenn Worthington, dean of the School of Business and Professional Studies. Dean Worthington also delivered the commencement address.
Distinguished Faculty of the Year awards went to Cary McAdams-Hamilton, School of Arts & Sciences and Dr. Danielle Lord, School of Business and Professional Studies.
Over 200 guests attended the ceremony.