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Hats off to Yacouba - graduation pride for former asylum seeker

18 July 2019


When Yacouba Traore arrived in the UK seeking asylum, he couldn’t speak a word of English. But this week his foster family proudly watched on as Yacouba graduated from Teesside University.

Yacouba Traore
Yacouba Traore

Yacouba came to the UK as an unaccompanied minor after both of his parents were murdered in the Ivory Coast, West Africa. He now lives with his foster family in Billingham, and they have supported him throughout his journey.

'My foster family took me into their home and they treated me like one of their own children. They were always there to support me when I was finding things difficult – I am so thankful for their encouragement.'

Now Yacouba has graduated from the School of Computing & Digital Technologies with BSc (Hons) Information Technology, and he has already secured a graduate job at Sage UK, a major software company based in Newcastle-upon-Tyne. It was his personal experience of using technology that made him realise this was the career path for him.

He said: 'French is my first language, so one of the biggest barriers when I moved here at 16 was communication. My foster family and I used an online translation tool to communicate at first, and that was nice because it also brought back memories for them of learning French in school. This technology provided a life-changing experience for me, and that is why I chose to study Information Technology at university.'

Yacouba fully immersed himself in student life at Teesside and became involved in a number of roles, societies and volunteering opportunities. He credits the staff and experiences he’s gained at university with helping him to get to where he is today.

All of the staff at the University continually inspire me to be a good person.

Yacouba Traore, BSc (Hons) Information Technology

Yacouba said: 'Once I came to Teesside University at an open day, I felt this was the place for me. I’ve been here for four years now and I’ve enjoyed every single thing about university.

'I’ve worked as a student ambassador for the University which has been amazing – it helped me to improve my skills and really grow as a person. It also gave me invaluable experience of working with schools and colleges in the area.

'I would recommend Teesside University to anyone. My lecturers and peers have all been fantastic. In fact, all staff at the University have been amazing from the Students’ Union to the student recruitment team – I cannot thank them enough for their support. They continually inspire me to be a good person.'

Abbie English, Deputy Director of Student Recruitment and Marketing at Teesside University, added: 'Yacouba has been a fantastic ambassador for the University during his time here. He has worked incredibly hard, demonstrated a great attitude, enthusiasm and work ethic and we wish him well for the future.'

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