Three years ago, Djeneba (Djeni) Sidibe arrived in the United States from the central African nation of the Democratic Republic of Congo. A French speaker, she had studied English throughout middle school and high school. She knew she needed much more language proficiency to advance her education and professional ambitions. She decided to enroll in the Business and Continuing Education Division’s English Language Instruction (ELI).
Presently a second year biotechnology student, Djeni admits that, without the ELI program, “I wouldn’t be where I am today.” She remembers her reaction to her first writing assignment, “Oh my God, I can’t do this!” she thought. With her instructors’ constant encouragement, Djeni gained confidence writing in English. “I started writing, and I wrote more than I thought I could. I learned to write by writing, especially a lot of essays, again, and again, and again.”
Djeni claims her greatest area of growth was in reading comprehension. “In my biotech classes, we read a lot of scientific articles with very difficult words,” she says, “I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to understand the main points of the articles I read for class.” “My first language is French, so when I used to read I’d translate directly. Then, I learned how to think and understand in English which is much different from understanding something that you read in French.”
Says Dr. Amrita Madabushi, Program Coordinator of the Life Sciences Institute and Professor of Natural and Physical Sciences, “Djeneba made big progress not only in reading and written comprehension. She made huge strides in her oral scientific presentations. She transitioned to a level where she is now confident presenting scientific research from published scientific articles as well as her own research work. She explains her scientific posters eloquently.” As President of the BCCC Biotech Society in Spring 2016 she addressed and motivated students on a variety of biotech topics.
Looking back, Djeni realizes, “ELI instructors push you to do what you think you are not capable of doing, but then you realize you can actually do it.” Dr. Madabushi agrees, “Djeneba’s progress is impressive and this would not have been possible without the ELI program.”