The Long and Winding Road: A Nontraditional Path to College Works

Posted by on April 19, 2013

Mamadi Toure’s road to college success has been long, winding and anything but conventional.

A March graduate with an associate degree in business administration from Minnesota School of Business, Mamadi is now studying for his bachelor’s degree.

Mamadi and his daughter Jeanne on graduation day

“It [the bachelor’s business administration degree] was always my goal,” Mamadi said.

But his journey to a college graduation ceremony was a long time coming (he is 39). The associate degree was a way for him to feel a sense of accomplishment and completion after being out of school for a period of years.

Mamadi is U.S.-born to a Guinea diplomat (his father), but he and his family returned to that country when Mamadi was still an infant. Toure came back to the U.S. as an international student when he was 26 years old, seeking a good education and opportunity.

He began school right away in 1998 and learned English. But he also worked at Electrolux and, “work got in the way,” he said.

Coming from West Africa, the money he earned was too attractive and became his focus. Plus, he added, “There was culture shock and weather!”

Mamadi Toure

Mamadi continued to work and entered college again in 2000, but then he took an unexpected detour into the military after being recruited while studying on campus. He scored high on the ASVAB and knew that the military could help him pay for school, so he enlisted.

It was actually friends in his unit who later led him to MSB, explaining that it was a military-friendly school with a lot of support. Mamadi enrolled in 2009, but then was deployed to Kuwait and Iraq in early 2011 and found that he had to put school on hold once again.

Mamadi speaks four languages (French, English, Mandingo and Susu) and brings a wealth of experience to his college classes and resume. As a veteran, his benefits have allowed him to attend school full-time, and this has made a huge difference in his success. He feels that he is finally on a straight path toward his goals: completing his bachelor’s degree and becoming an officer in the U.S. Army in logistics.

He was granted a paid internship at the St. Cloud Veterans Administration hospital in St. Cloud prior to receiving his associate degree and is currently employed there. He sees a future for himself long-term at the VA.

Meanwhile, life is busy but good. He lives with his wife and daughters in Sartell (his daughter Jeanne was born while he was deployed overseas), works by day at the VA and takes night classes at MSB.

associate degree in business administration

Accounting Chair Vicki Holthaus tutors Mamadi in the Resource Center

In his “spare” time, he comes to campus early to receive tutoring in accounting.

“Everyone has been so helpful, [at MSB],” he said, “especially Career Services.”

And does he have advice for other college students to follow?

“Yes,” he smiled. “Don’t wait until you are old to go to school!”


Thank you for your Interest in Minnesota School of Business.