TSU first-generation college student continues to fulfill family dream with graduate degree

When Adam Traoré receives his master’s degree from TSU this Saturday in agricultural sciences, he wouldn’t be walking the stage only for himself, but as a first-generation college student. By getting his degree, Traoré’s is also fulfilling the dream of his family as well.

The child of a West African immigrant father, Traoré says obtaining his second degree from Tennessee State University means everything to himself, his parents Habib and Mattie Traoré and his younger brother.

Adam. M. Traoré creating endophyte-colonized sweet sorghum plants in Dr. Ondzighi’s greenhouse at TSU. (Photo submitted)

“He knew that moving to the U.S. would provide opportunities for us that aren’t as easily accessible in his country,” Traoré says, referring to his father. “That sentiment has always motivated me to recognize the opportunities I am given, and appreciate the sacrifices that both my mom and dad made to get me where I am today.”

The 24-year-old Knoxville native describes this moment as ‘surreal.’ 

“I went directly from undergrad after graduating early and went straight into my master’s. To be so young and have job opportunities lined up afterward, it feels good.”

In 2017, Traoré came to TSU to study agricultural sciences as an undergrad and followed that up immediately with his graduate program, with a concentration in biotechnology.

He finished his master’s program with a 3.6 GPA.

Adam Traoré. (Photo by SupermaPhotography)

Months before the upcoming graduation, Traoré received great job offers. One of which, from the federal government for a biosecurity position and another within the Alabama Department of Forensic Sciences as a drug chemist. Traoré says he has not made a final decision on which job to take just yet.

Traoré says his family and loved ones have supported his educational journey every step of the way, but also credits his TSU advisor, Dr. Christine Ondzighi, for his progress and success in undergraduate and grad school. 

“Adam is a very good student,” says Ondzighi, an associate professor in Department of Agricultural and Environment Sciences.

“Coming from TSU, and coming from my lab, I am very proud of that.” She noted that the early job offers Traoré has received speak volume of his work ethic and the talents the university produces. He is a great person, super enthusiastic and passionate. I am very proud of him on graduating and he is so far deserving.”

Adam Traoré says as a first-generation college student he looks forward to paving the way for his family and to inspire his younger brother Maleek. (Photo submitted)

In addition to Traoré academic achievements at TSU, he is also a mentor with the Tennessee Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation (TLSAMP) program. He is a member of Collegiate 100, Minorities in Agriculture, Natural Resources, and Related Sciences (MANRRS), and a member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. Traoré looks forward to being a role model to his younger brother, Maleek, who is a senior at Maryville High School.

Traore’ is one of 269 graduate students receiving master’s degrees during TSU’s fall commencement on Saturday, December 3, 2022. MSNBC television host and political analyst Symone D. Sanders-Townsend will deliver the keynote address.