Scholar Finds New Path and Fortune At Morehouse CollegeDate Released: May 12, 2017
By D. Aileen Dodd
Dofan A. Koné understands the pain of promise wasted. He carries the hopes of his Ivory Coast homeland on his shoulders. It could have been someone else to make it out. Someone richer. Someone smarter.
Back home, the hands of a would-be surgeon get covered in the dirt of a day laborer.
For Koné, it would be different.
On May 21, Koné will graduate summa cum laude with a major in accounting and a minor in math from Morehouse College, nearly 9,000 miles away from his home in Abidjan. He will become a Morehouse Man with swagger and impeccable credentials.
Koné was determined to succeed. He earned awards his senior year for having the highest grade point average in the accounting department and another for being the top student in the Division of Business Administration and Economics.
He knows his community in the Ivory Coast would expect nothing less.
“I am here because someone gave me an opportunity,” Koné, said beaming with pride. “I figured the best way to show my thanks was to maximize my outcome and make the most of it. I know a million of other guys in Ivory Coast who are more brilliant, and would have loved to have this chance. I owe it to them to do my very best."
After graduation, new opportunities will beckon Koné further from home. A job awaits him at a prestigious investment banking firm where he could make nearly six figures. Or, he could earn a master’s degree from a respected graduate school.
His choices looked much different in high school in Abidjan where he grew up as the middle child of two siblings. If he stayed in his homeland, finding professional work would take a degree from a local college. Private universities were costly. Public institutions were sometimes unstable. His future would be uncertain.
“I was not academic at all in high school,” Koné said.
That changed after Koné passed a pre-college exam that gained him entry into an elite leadership academy in South Africa where scholars were groomed for success in higher education with boot camp-like precision. The rules were strict, the professors demanding. He was one of 100 to get in from a pool of 3,000 applicants. Koné fell in line. He took advantage of every leadership opportunity that he could get and even won awards for his take-charge attitude.
“Because of campus involvement, I took a hit on academics during my first year,” he admitted. “My cousin was very angry with me. She told me that ‘If you don’t have good grades, it will be hard for you to make it in life.’”
He turned his grades around so that he could make it into college. Then, he was spotted by a recruiter who came to the African Leadership Academy from Morehouse College.
“There were three guys from ALA who were studying at Morehouse at the time,” Koné recalled. He wanted in. “Morehouse had something very special. My values aligned very well with the College.”
He landed a full scholarship and was soon on his way to Morehouse. It was his first time in the United States. He’s only gone home twice since he arrived in Atlanta in August 2013.
“I came to Morehouse very academically focused,” he said. “I understood very quickly that academics was a very small part of the experience. I learned that, at the end of the day, the goal was to also effect change on society in unprecedented ways.”
Koné thrived on the challenges offered at Morehouse. He conquered his fear of accounting after finding a mentor in Dr. Emmanuel Onifade who persuaded him to major in accounting and minor in math. Koné’s work ethic propelled him a year ahead of his peers.
“I was the only freshman in accounting,” he said. “By the time I was a junior, I was done with all of my accounting requirements.”
Koné finished his required classes early so that he could study abroad and take his final electives in Spanish. Dr. Melvin Rahming, an English professor, helped him to apply to an immersion academic program in Chile. Koné now speaks French, Spanish, and English fluently. He received a $5,000 scholarship from Morehouse to help him fund his studies.
“I had always wanted to go to Latin America,” he said.
As Koné expanded his intellect, he also gained some practical experience at an investment banking firm. He was recommended for a summer program at Barclays in New York City his freshman year. A year later, he was working as an intern there. “When I got my contract, it was troubling to me because I had never seen so much money,” he said.
Morehouse alumnus Kayin Barclay, a second-year analyst at the firm, met Koné for coffee regularly to offer him career advice on how to become a top performer.
“I started my senior year with a full-time job offer as an investment banker at Barclays after graduation,” he said. “I didn’t even know an investment banker was a job before I came to Morehouse.”
Koné credits Morehouse for helping him to live his academic dream. He thanks his professors annually for teaching him. “I have written a thank you card to every single professor that I have ever taken a class from during college,” he said. “If I took more than one class, they got two.”
The graduating senior is proud to be a Morehouse Man. He describes the distinction this way: “A Morehouse Man is one that deeply loves and cares for his community, and for that mere reason, he serves that community in the most ethical way.”
As he faces the future, Koné says he will stay true to his values. He is putting his academics first.
He tabled his offer at Barclays – and they approved his deferral - so that he could get his license in accounting. Koné was accepted into a year-round master’s of accounting program at Ohio State University.
Leaving Morehouse, says Koné, will be like leaving family behind. But he will be back. “My brother is applying to Morehouse,” he said. “I told him about the brotherhood, the support, and the growth that it will foster in him. I just love it.”
Read More About Dofan:
Name: Dofan A. Koné
Major: Accounting and minor in Mathematics
Hometown: Côte-d’Ivoire, Abidjan
Clubs: Morehouse Office of Housing and Residential Education
Name of professor(s) integral to my success: Dr. Emmanuel Onifade & Dr. Melvin Rahming (and a lot more, I just cannot list them all here.)
Name of Morehouse College program integral to my success: Morehouse MBA Protégé Program.
Senior awards: Highest Ranking Senior (Accounting), Outstanding Senior (Accounting), E.B. Williams Award (Top student division of Business Administration and Economics).
Plans after graduation: Admitted to Ohio State Masters of Accounting program, sit for the CPA, and start full-time at Barcla
Last Modified: May 15, 2017, 13:05 PM, by: Synera Shelton