I grew up knowing that I did not want to limit my career opportunities, so therefore I should study in a field that would be general enough to provide me with some flexibility in my professional life. Also, as a native French speaker, I knew that becoming fluent in English too would open a lot of doors for me. To satisfy these ideas, I decided to get a Master’s of Business Administration (MBA) in an English speaking country.
I obtained my Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA) from a French-American business school in Paris, France and I then wanted to get an MBA from a top school in the USA. My brother was studying at that time in Boston and he suggested William & Mary to me. I did some research and liked the MBA program offered by the Mason School of Business. The Field Consultancy program and its experienced Executive Partners (EPs) were the two main aspects of this program that attracted me. Moreover, after having lived in Paris for four years, Williamsburg was a small, quiet and very beautiful city with which I fell in love.
Like any international student, one of the main obstacles I faced when I arrived at W&M was the language barrier. It was my first time living in an English speaking country. Even if I had the academic vocabulary, I had never had friends who only spoke English or had to find items in the grocery store in a foreign language. After few months I started get used to speaking English every day, everywhere, and that was when I really started enjoying myself.
I realized that W&M is THE world but in a smaller setting. At the College students from different nationalities, cultures, languages, and visions find themselves in a small environment and have to overcome their differences and work together. I know that not only did I learn a lot from the wonderful people I met, socialized and worked with at W&M, but that I also taught quite a few people about my continent, Africa. As the Vice President of the International Students Association at the Mason School of Business, I worked hard to include events where the African continent was represented, which was not always the case in the past!
After graduation I decided to stay in Williamsburg and accept a job with the Peace Operations Training Institute, an international NGO that provides distance-training to United Nations peacekeepers and others interested in the study of peacekeeping, humanitarian relief, and security. We work a lot with the United Nations and other countries. As a person with an international background, I really like the nature of my job and feel fortunate that my work as a global impact and contributes even slightly to peace all around the world.
Farida Yacine Sawadogo, MBA ’10, was born and raised in Burkina Faso, West Africa. She currently serves as the Chief of Institutional Relations and Chief of Programmes Monitoring and Evaluation at the Peace Operations Training Institute, a Williamsburg, VA-based public charity dedicated to providing training for United Nations peacekeeping personnel.