Wednesday, December 22, 2021

Man from West Africa Learns English, Graduates with IT Degree in Four Years

Article Photo - Man from West Africa Learns English, Graduates with IT Degree in Four Years

Danho (Roger) Achiepo, from Ivory Coast, West Africa, graduated Tuesday, Dec. 21, with an associate’s degree as an IT-Network Specialist.

Danho (Roger) Achiepo walked through the halls of Chippewa Valley Technical College weeks before his December graduation. Every few steps, students and staff alike called out his name.

Achiepo, part of the Akye ethnic group, is known around campus for his hard work, dedication to his studies and friendliness.

Now he will also be known for graduating from CVTC with an associate’s degree as an IT-Network Specialist.

When Achiepo began classes at the College in 2017, he did it with purpose.

Achiepo, originally from West Africa, first enrolled in CVTC’s English Language Learners course and mastered the language in three semesters.

In 2018, he entered the IT-Network Specialist program while maintaining an on-campus mailroom job that helped him meet everyone in the building, serving on the nominating committee for the new CVTC president, working at Culver’s, then Menards – all while being separated from his family and wife in the Ivory Coast.

Achiepo’s motivation was simple: “There are two main reasons for me to be in the United States – first, to study, and second, to get a better life.”

The Eau Claire man, whose brother has lived in California since 1993, learned from a friend that CVTC is a great place to learn English and train for a career.

“It was a challenge for me to come to a country without having basic English when all the things are done in English,” he said. “I applied for college and studies with students who have an English level more advanced than me.

“In addition, I got a job and worked with people that have a different culture and race. I’m a hard worker and I had in my mind I was going to reach my goal.”

Juli Baker, CVTC ELL instructor, said Achiepo stands out because he devotes all of his non-working time to learning.

“Roger (Achiepo) is deeply committed to his education,” Baker said. “He is one of the kindest and friendliest people. It’s likely he knows more people on campus than anyone else does. When I chat with him in the hall, everyone greets him as they walk by.”

Achiepo thanks the instructors that helped him achieve his goal of graduating.
“Graduation day makes me emotional because for me it means the beginning of another important step in my life,” he said.

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