Achieving success at Snow College and Weber State University by earning three associate degrees and a bachelor’s degree plus multiple awards and internships, current WSU student Rodrigue Kissou is now in his last semester working towards his MBA.

Rodrigue Kissou portrait at the Wattis Business Building.
January 7, 2021.
Rodrigue Kissou dreams of starting a foundation for children who are unable to obtain higher education. Photo credit: Benjamin Zack

After graduation, Kissou plans to return to his home country, Burkina Faso, one of the poorest countries in the world, to become a politician in the hopes that he can make a positive change for the poor government system there.

Kissou dreams of starting a foundation for children who are unable to obtain higher education. He wants them to grasp the opportunities he was able to earn for himself.

Because he had to make sacrifices to come to the United States, he wants to be able to make education more attainable in his country, so citizens can make a name for themselves and become independent.

Kissou hopes he can cause a ripple effect of getting a higher education. Despite his difficult circumstances, his goals were always attainable.

He said without the support of his family, friends and faculty and staff members at WSU, it would’ve been harder to succeed in school, but he would have accomplished it either way. That’s the kind of person and student he is.

However, Kissou said the support of family members, like his father, motivated him to become a better man and an accomplished student. His father obtained his Ph.D., which gave Kissou more drive.

Some of the best advice both of his parents gave him was that education would give him a jump-start in life.

They told him, “If I want to be successful in life, education will open doors for more opportunities,” Kissou said. “If I wanted to achieve great things, I had to get an education.”

Kissou had plans as a child to go to a primarily English-spoken country when he was older, but he never dreamed it would be in the United States. For that, he is forever grateful for the opportunities WSU has provided him.

On his MBA application, Kissou wrote, “At Weber, I found myself. I found a family and I never felt alone. At Weber, my confidence grew and instilled in me a belief that I will succeed in Weber’s MBA program.”

Another significant mentor Kissou looked up to was the career services director at the Goddard School, Brett Merrell.

“Brett was a lifesaver for me,” Kissou said.

At the time, Kissou knew he had to reach out to career services for internship opportunities, as he was coming up on his last semester of his bachelor’s degree, so he went to Merrell’s office. That’s when their friendship took off.

Merrell looked over Kissou’s resume, when he had only been a student in the U.S. for four years at the time, and Merrell applauded Kissou on his accomplishments.

Rodrigue Kissou portrait at the Wattis Business Building.
January 7, 2021.
After graduating with his MBA, Rodrigue Kissou plans to return to his home country, Burkina Faso. Photo credit: Benjamin Zack

When Kissou first arrived in the country, he was still learning English, and all of his assignments had to be translated for him. He also worked six part-time jobs while attending school full-time.

Despite the extra work, he got all of his work done while maintaining a good-standing GPA.

“Rodrigue is an incredible example of what it takes to win,” Merrell said. “He has overcome geographic, cultural, financial and language challenges that most of us would give up on. As he faces these obstacles, he is always positive, upbeat and never gives up.”

Merrell and Kissou met on a regular basis, so they became fast friends and understood each other.

“He has helped me so much in the past. He is like family to me now,” Kissou said.

Among those who encouraged Kissou to keep pushing through school was his adviser, Alex Miller.

Miller formerly worked for the Center for International Students, so he understood Kissou’s situation and knew how much he wanted to accomplish great things.

Miller helped Kissou find and fill out scholarship applications since Kissou was struggling to pay for school.

International students are only allowed to take off summer semester of classes, otherwise they will be deported. With that in mind, Kissou took off every summer semester and worked his six jobs in order to help pay for school.

Economics professor Brandon Koford helped Kissou with his internship. Koford helped him find scholarships as well. Every little bit of money he could save, Kissou saved it.

Kissou said he would often see his friends buy new shirts, new cars and new houses, but for him, that wasn’t an option.

“You have to keep your grades up,” Kissou said. “And as hard as it is, you have to save your money and work hard. Always keep that goal in mind that you can have nicer things one day, after you’ve graduated.”

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