Bakari Coulibaly, known to everyone as Bouba, recently became the first international protection holder to receive a degree from the University of Sassari. Bouba graduated with the highest possible grade and a thesis titled "Malian Culture and the Urban Effects of Migration".
Bakari Coulibaly, who goes by the nickname Bouba, two days ago became the first international protection holder to receive a degree from the University of Sassari.
Bouba, 32, is from Mali and graduated with an architectural degree in City, Environmental, and Landscape Planning and Policy. Bouba enrolled at the university in Alghero, on the northwest coast of the island of Sardinia, in 2016.
"When I was in school in Bamako I really wanted to complete a master's degree in Europe," Bouba said. "It seemed like an impossible dream, but it has come true and I'm very happy," he said. Bouba wrote his thesis on "Malian Culture and the Urban Effects of Migration" and received the highest grade possible - 110 out of 110 with honors.
Helped by instructors and institutions
Bouba had help along his path from various people at an institutional level as well as cultural and social associations in Alghero that recognize the value of multiculturalism.
One of his main mentors was Silvia Serreli, an instructor in the Department of Architecture, Design, and Urban Planning in Alghero. Serreli is is the university rector's delegate for migrant and refugee integration policy, and was also Bouba's doctoral advisor.
Bouba said he would like to become a professor one day, to continue to study, research and teach. But in the meantime, he said he works in the kitchen at a restaurant in Alghero. "I live with colleagues and friends, and I am grateful to the many people in Alghero and at the University of Sassari without whom this goal would have been impossible," Bouba said.
A model example
Bakari Coulibaly was born in northern Mali. He enrolled at the University of Sassari through a scholarship from the Conference of Italian University Rectors and the Italian Interior Ministry. The scholarship was for refugees and international protection holders who were forced to abandon their studies in their country of origin.
During his degree program, Coulibaly spent six months at the Autonomous University of Barcelona with the Erasmus Plus program. His story is a model example for other students at the University of Sassari who are international protection holders. In 2015, the university began an integration program in which it enrolled international protection holders as part of a broader project with a local network dedicated to an increasingly more inclusive university.