With parents who immigrated to the United States from the Ivory Coast, one thing Masake Fofana does not take for granted is her education. When he first came to the United States, her father worked as a taxi driver in New York where he earned enough money to fly her mother to the U.S. Masake’s mother worked as a beautician. With a growing household, they moved from New York to Chicago, and finally to Virginia. “Being a child of immigrants gives me the courage and ambition to pursue my ultimate dream,” Masake stated in an essay. “I always wondered why my parents worked so hard, now I know the enormous role education plays in achieving success.” Masake’s parents weren’t able to get the same type of educational opportunities as she was. This is one reason why it is so important to her. Masake’s long-term educational goal is to receive a Master’s degree in business.
After working her way up to owning her own hair salon in Richmond, Masake’s mother’s experience encouraged her to also go into business. Once she receives her MBA, Masake wants to work for a company, to gain skills and learn about the business industry. After gaining some years of experience, she wants to open her own restaurant featuring foods from different African cultures. “I really love food and I really love African food,” Masake said. “There’s a lot of people here that don’t know about African food and they’re really missing out.” Not only does she want to share the different types of foods with the community, Masake also wants her restaurant to have history behind it and offer a museum-like experience.
While she is still in high school, Masake stays very active. She has participated in basketball, cross country, the band; she is the president of the FBLA, senior class president and even won the 2015 – 2016 citizenship award from her school. As well as participating in community service outside of school, Masake stays busy and currently has a 3.29 GPA. “I’ve learned that although my environment isn’t the best, I make the best out of my environment,” Masake said. “I look past that and I try to achieve my goals and what I want to succeed.”
After graduating, Masake’s top choice for college is James Madison University. “When I first went to James Madison, I wasn’t really sure that I wanted to go there because I didn’t see many people that looked like me,” Masake said. “But I thought about it and I was like well, I’m going to have to work with diversity when I get into the business field so I would like to know about every culture and every background.” Masake reflected on how when she was younger, though she was born in the U.S., she lived in the Ivory Coast for some years. She spoke French and her mother’s native language, Mandinka, but when she returned to the U.S. she didn’t speak English. It was hard for her to adapt and relate to the other children. This experience taught her to embrace diversity and other cultures. This is something she hopes to get out of attending James Madison.
Because of her experiences as a child, not only does Masake want to become an entrepreneur, she also wants to start a community outreach program that will serve high schoolers from low-income families or with similar situations as her own family. Two of Masake’s biggest inspirations to achieve her goals and give back to her community are her mother and grandmother. “My grandma sacrificed her life to make my mom’s life better and my mom sacrificed her life to make my life better,” Masake said. “So those are the two people that are really meaningful to me.” With her family inspiring and motivating her along the way, Masake is ready to work toward her goals. She wants the community to know that she is motivated and ready to be successful.