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From Law to Economics: Yakhéra Litsé, 2015 IUGB Graduate Discovers A New Way to Build Her Country

t6Yakhéra Litsé graduated from IUGB’s 2+2 program with Georgia State University with a Bachelors in Business Administration in Finance. Her unique story highlights a career change during her transition from French to an American-style education.  Yakhéra pursued a literary track at College Saint Viateur d’Abidjan and graduated in 2011. She initially planned to study law next to address injustice: “When I was younger…I wanted to help women, children and poor people who were discriminated against in most African countries. I had the opinion that rich people were getting richer while poverty was aggravating the plight of those who were already suffering. I wanted to fight for gender equality in our African societies, too. “

Had she stayed within the French system, she would have been committed to Law from the first year of University on.  However, she chose to attend IUGB and found that law classes were not in the undergraduate curriculum, but political science was, so she decided to study it. Her parents, more familiar with Finance, encouraged Yakhéra to focus on this area.  She soon learned that Finance was not her true passion; yet the economics requirements for that degree led to another discovery. Her intermediate macroeconomics courses convinced Yakhéra that she had found her calling, as the field shows “…what a country should do to achieve better economic stability” and is an integral part of policies and development.   This conviction led her to her present work for a Master of Arts in Economics (with a concentration in Development Economics) at Northeastern University.  After obtaining her Master’s degree, Yakhéra would like to be an economist, like her father.  She wants to find solutions for Africa’s development challenges, and to work in development or political economics.” I will certainly go back to school after I finish [my Master’s] for a Ph.D.

Yakhéra notes that although “…surprisingly I do not have a degree in Law, It is not that I gave up on my dream. It just that I found the same motivations and passion in another subject. I love economics. Becoming an economist will give me the opportunity to fight against injustice and discrimination, and for socio-economic equality and equal rights. I really want to participate in Africa’s development.”

Yakhéra sees herself ‘probably’ living in Washington, D.C. within the next five years and hopes to work for World Bank’s Africa Department before she returns to Côte d’Ivoire.

She would advise new IUGB female students that “education is the key-it is important.  I want them to be confident and have faith in themselves, and to never give up on their dreams because they are destined to be leaders”.  She reminds them that “…we are as strong, smart and successful as men.” She hopes those achieving their degrees in the U.S.  will return to Africa to be agents for the continent’s social and economic prosperity.

This determined student is clear about giving back.  “I am aware of the chance I have to study in the USA. I know it is the dream of many people. Unfortunately, not all parents have the financial means to send their children here. I am studying Economics mostly to help people in Africa struggling every day for a better life.  My desire to help reduce poverty, misery, famine, corruption…and the crime rate in Africa is enormous. The easiest way for me to give back to my community would be to create an organization to promote education, womens’ empowerment and leadership.” Finally, Yakhéra would encourage women to create small businesses and thus job opportunities. Fortunately, she and her colleagues will soon be formulating solutions to some of Africa-and the world’s-toughest development problems with their extensive Economics knowledge.  Real economic change and stability comes with equal investment in education for women and men. Just a one-year increase in average university education levels would raise annual GDP growth on the African continent by 0.39 percentage points, and eventually yield up to a 12 percent increase in GDP.*  Yakhéra and her peers are the vanguard of this growth-and all of us are watching for the results.

Source: UNESCO, World Bank