Asta Diabaté

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What does graduation mean to you?

It means an end of an era and the beginning of a new one. It means the realization of something that I have dreamt of doing – going to university – since I was 5. It is an achievement not only for myself but for a family. It is the result of my efforts combined with the faith and support I have gotten from the people around me.

What is the trajectory you see for yourself?

Success, a family of my own perhaps? I don’t know. I realized not too long ago that you can only plan so much. Life has always a way to change and mess up the plans that you have. If you asked me last December what trajectory I see for myself I would have described events and plans vastly different from the ones I have now. For the moment I know I’ll be starting an internship in Seoul in August that could turn into a full time job; and I know I have to work and make SPECTRA the best it can be.

What impact has university had on you?

I entered university as a color-blind convicted conservative with no understanding of race, gender, or anything really. I grew up sheltered and somehow privileged despite my working-class parents. Now I leave university as a convicted feminist, still centre-right but no longer affiliated with any party, and proud to call myself Afro-Italian. University has opened up my mind to a whole world out there and none of this would have been possible without the random conversations I had with friends, or with random strangers, or simply without listening to what other people had to say.

Which are your most potent memories of university?

Having conversations switch from the most mundane of topics to the most academically rigorous topic in a few seconds. Performing my poem at an exhibition on sexual violence that I had helped organize for the It Happens Here campaign. Feeling drained and amazing after handing in my 12,000 words thesis on American presidential elections. I could go on forever. I guess the running thread of my most potent memories is the fact that I was being challenged, I was bettering myself and I was growing.

What gives you impetus?

My family. I jokingly tell my parents that I have won the birth lottery. My parents are my inspirations, and so are my grandmother who is sadly no longer with us. They didn’t have the chance of an education. So I’m doing this for them as well as me.

 

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