A portrait of Kadidia Macki Samake
Kadidia Macki Samake, who received a bachelor's degree in international studies at VCU, works as American Center deputy director and EducationUSA adviser for the American Embassy of Mali. (Contributed photo)

VCU alum starts ‘dream job’ at the American Embassy of Mali

Among her duties, Kadidia Macki Samake provides guidance for students planning to study in the U.S.

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When Kadidia Macki Samake attended Virginia Commonwealth University, she took the advice given to her by her host mom Patricia Cummins, Ph.D.  — do the work you want, and you will never feel as if you are working.

“I finally got my dream job,” said Samake, a native of Mali who graduated in 2017 with a bachelor’s degree in international studies from the School of World Studies in the VCU College of Humanities and Sciences and is now working as American Center deputy director and EducationUSA adviser for the American Embassy of Mali.

Samake started at the U. S. Embassy in Bamako, Mali, on June 6 and finds working in the field of diplomacy to be a great experience, she said.

“I get to meet people of all backgrounds with amazing skills,” she said. “My job is to lead programs at the American Center that are based on English learning, skills building and other trainings. As an EducationUSA adviser, I also advise/guide potential students who are planning to study in the U. S.”

EducationUSA is a U.S. Department of State network of over 430 international student advising centers in more than 175 countries and territories.

“Potential students take advice from me about the steps they need to undertake for their studies in the U.S.,” said Samake who received her master’s degree in peacebuilding and sustainable development at UPEACE (University of Peace), which is a United Nations-mandated university located in Costa Rica.

Samake has been dreaming of working for the American Embassy or the White House since she was a child, she said.

“It took time, but I finally got part of what I was expecting,” she said. “The next step is either the United Nations or the White House, God willing.”

Samake, who is now a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Letters and Human Sciences of Bamako, left Mali in 2013 to study in the U.S.

“My plan was to study at a community college because my parents could not afford the university fees, but my host mom, Dr. Cummins, said I should go to VCU instead,” Samake said. “She helped my father a lot so that he could pay for my tuition fees.”

Cummins, a professor in the School of World Studies, served as Samake’s mentor as well as her host mom, Samake said.

“She guided my steps throughout my stay at VCU, from my ELP classes until my graduation,” Samake said.

Samake loved the diversity on the VCU campus but had some trouble at first finding her footing as a student in America.

“I wish I had read about another African girl/woman experience about living in the USA as a student before I came to VCU,” she said. “That would have made me avoid some mistakes that I did make.”

She was involved in several activities on campus, including One International at VCU, UNICEF at VCU and Ram Pantry, and she also was part of the Virginia Friends of Mali family.

In 2012, Samake and friends started a nonprofit, Help Needy Kids Challenge, to help others by providing clothes and food and sponsoring kids’ education, she said.

One of her favorite pastimes at VCU was visiting the James Branch Cabell Library where she would sometimes stay until 3 a.m., she said.

“My thanks to RamSafe for escorting me home at those hours. I also like the Writing Center a lot, as well as activities they do for international students on a weekly basis and special ones during parties or on Thanksgiving for example,” she said.

Samake said VCU will always be a special place for her.

“I feel so emotional right now thinking about VCU,” she said. “I cannot wait to go back to visit again. VCU is part of me now, like a second home that I miss every day.”