ATLANTA—After she finishes her final semester at the Andrew Young School of Policy Studies, Ramatoulaye “Rama” Diallo (B.S.W., ’21) will enter an M.S.W. program and begin to lay the groundwork for building a community for immigrant women and young girls in the metro Atlanta area.
Born in Senegal, Diallo wishes to develop a nonprofit organization that provides extensive programming and resources to assist young girls and women who come from collectivistic cultures that emphasize the needs of a group rather than those of an individual, have suffered gender-based violence or been in forced marriages.
“In my culture, girls are told they are to start thinking about marriage at 16 years old,” she said. “When I was in high school my parents told me that I should start thinking about it. I had seen so many girls get married and not finish their studies. I just remember knowing I wanted to stay in school and graduate.”
Diallo attributes her personal experience as the momentum behind her pursuit of social work and desire to create safe spaces for young girls and women to exist freely.
“There was a lot of pressure to focus solely on marriage and forgo other goals I had. I remember looking for resources and organizations to help me, and I was not able to find any.”
Fortunately, Diallo found solace in a place that would not only help her recognize her agency, but would give her the courage to reclaim her narrative.
“I did a lot of therapy, and it was helpful,” Diallo said. “The social worker and therapist helped me to see it is okay to have goals outside of marriage.”
Diallo is pursuing the M.S.W. degree to take her one step closer to fulfilling her lifelong passion of standing in the gap for immigrant women and girls who lack the resources needed to lead an autonomous life after resettling in the United States.
While she works toward earning her credentials, she is looking for ways to extend support to women and young girls by offering them a space to practice empathy toward themselves.
“If you are putting in your best work and that is what you can do in that moment, that is enough. Be understanding of yourself, care for yourself and be patient with yourself.”
Story by Victoria Bowden, M.P.P. Candidate