Student Spotlight: Aby Barry

Aby Barry

Aby Barry
Major: Associate in Arts
Hometown: Lisle

When Aby Barry was growing up in Senegal, West Africa, she would often visit her mother, Aline, who worked at the American Embassy.

"I was always excited by the idea of going there. It was amazing how this place was full of knowledge, with smart and friendly co-workers interested in people of the whole world," she aid. "While others just saw foreigners working there, I perceived an extraordinary combination of cultures. It was so fascinating to me and I thought, 'Working in a place like the Embassy would be a dream come true.' "

Barry and her family came to the U.S. in 2011. At first, she struggled to grasp the nuances of American life.

"I quickly learned that culture is like an iceberg: architecture, fashion and language are only the visible parts. But we must dig deeper to discover its essence: values, communication style, time perception or management practices," she said. "It is true that my first few weeks here were difficult from the point of view of understanding and expression. But I learned to adapt -- stiffly at first, but then I found my bearings. I became a Chaparral in May 2011."

Her original major was Business. But Barry quickly realized that her studies needed to reflect her interest in learning different cultures, languages and traveling. So she pursued an Associate in Arts degree and immersed herself in global studies.

During her time at College of DuPage, Barry was able to develop her leadership skills, which led to an array of accomplishments: Living Leadership Program, Honors student, Student Leadership Council member, La Connexion Francaise of COD/French Club president, secretary of Alpha Mu Gamma, member of Phi Theta Kappa and the Benjamin P. Hyink Student Leader of the Year Award.

"The person I used to be seems so far away now. My curiosity toward the world around me has only increased," she said. "Arriving here with little knowledge of English and lack of conversation, I never dreamed I would, for example, be tutoring some 10 subjects. It was just unimaginable! That's something one dreams about, without thinking it could happen, especially for a non-native speaker."

Barry earned her Associate in Arts degree in May 2013 and is attending George Washington University, where she has been admitted to the Elliott School of International Affairs. She will major in International Affairs and minor in French.

"I have become that leader and that independent person, capable of handling two paying jobs at the same time to help my family while being a full-time student, still managing to get my good grades and pursuing numerous activities at College of DuPage. I became more reliable to people like my teachers and advisors. I’ve developed an extraordinary ability to relate to others as never before, cultivating that deep cultural sensitivity and that engaging personality that I had never been conscious of. My curiosity toward the world around me has only increased. And that's definitely what someone will get by coming to College of DuPage."

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