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BSC Students from The Gambia Find Success and Fulfillment at Bluefield State

  • Created
    Thursday, March 27 2014
  • Created by
    Jim Nelson/Media Relations - (304) 327-4103

Paris Lester (left), Bluefield State College accounting faculty member, and BSC students Alieu Diem (center) and Famara Jallow from The Gambia are pictured during a break between classes.  Diem and Fallow and are providing tax preparation help for area residents through the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program at BSC.
(Bluefield)—Famara Jallow and Alieu Dem came to Bluefield State College from The Gambia by following a path blazed by several of their countrymen. When they graduate in May, Jallow and Dem will join more than a half-dozen Gambian students who are now BSC alumni.

Both Dem and Jallow attended the same community college in The Gambia, and they shared the same hometown (Kololi, a city of 50,000), but they didn't meet until they arrived at Bluefield State College. "We had different academic majors at the community college," Jallow said, "but we learned about BSC from our friends who had great experiences as students at Bluefield State."

As accounting majors, Jallow and Dem are helping area residents complete and file their income tax returns. "A few of the people we helped with their returns were nervous at first, but when we completed the return and told them they were entitled to a refund, they became our new friends," Dem stated. "It's a great experience," Dem said, "because it prepares us for our careers after graduation."
"The idea of filing a tax return was something new for us," Jallow continued, "because in The Gambia there's a general tax rate and taxes are taken out of our pay. Our goal in the VITA program is to complete 75 tax returns this year. The experience will help to prepare us to earn our CPA licenses."

BSC accounting faculty member Paris Lester, VITA site coordinator, is among the students' most enthusiastic supporters. "I teach students from 14 different countries," Lester said. "Our international students have enriched my job tremendously. They are pleasant, well mannered, intelligent and dedicated."

Jallow hopes to land a position at the International Monetary Fund, and Dem looks forward to going back to The Gambia to work in the banking industry. "We have learned so much while we have been here," Jallow said. "Every Gambian student who attended Bluefield State before us has succeeded in graduate school and in business."

There are four students from The Gambia at BSC this semester, and two more could be added this fall. "My sister and brother have graduated from high school, and they are working to obtain I-20 student visas so they can come to the U.S. and enroll at Bluefield State," Dem said. "I tell them that this is a good college and the people here care about us."