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Recent graduate believes in giving back to MSU Denver

Papa Momar LoumIt took Papa Momar Loum four years of Electrical Engineering classes to realize that he didn’t know much. “The more I learn, the more realize that there is much more to learn,” Loam, a recent graduate and current tutor in the Student Academic Success Center, said.

This is one of the reasons why he continues to tutor in the Student Academic Success Center after graduation and before he goes to graduate school.

If you’ve been to the tutoring center, you’ve probably met or have been tutored by Loum, who goes by Papa to everyone. At 6’5”, he’s hard to miss. But it’s his smile and encouraging attitude that is impossible to forget.

“This job has taught me a great deal,” he said. “You get smarter every day, you learn how to solve complex math problems better each time you help a student as they bring their own ideas to the session.”

And it’s taught him a lot of patience. “Everyone learns differently,” he said. “Their style of learning is different from mine, which has opened my mind to new ways to approach a math problem, as well as life.”

Loum has a lot riding on his success. He’s originally from Senegal, which is on the West Coast of Africa, and “everyone in my country is counting on me to do well,” he said.

Senegal is a democratic country that is 95 percent Muslim and has upwards of 30 different tribes speaking as many languages. It is also one of the most stable and prosperous countries in Africa. Loum is fluent in four of those tribal languages, plus English, French and Spanish.

He originally left Senegal and went to France to study Electrical Engineering. After a few years he returned to Senegal and worked for seven years before immigrating to the United States and enrolling at MSU Denver.

In Senegal, he would tutor others in math and physics while he was on break from his day job. He remembers sitting in his chef’s uniform and tutoring his friends and community members.

“I’m the only one in my family that is getting an American education,” he said. His sister and brother studied in France and Senegal. At MSU Denver he found the people and the services to help him succeed and get acclimated to a new culture.

“This is the perfect university because there is so much student support here,” he said. “When I came here I didn’t know if I would fit in. I do fit in because there is so much diversity here that everyone fits in.”

Even though Loum graduated in December, he keeps tutoring at MSU Denver because he believes so strongly in the power of education. “If my teachers had not taken the time to help me, I couldn’t be here to help others,” he explained. “I think of that when I get stressed or overwhelmed. I’m here to help someone because someone once helped me.”

With the recommendations of two engineering professors Loum applied to the Colorado School of Mines for graduate school. He’s also interviewing for engineering positions.

While he waits for the next chapter of his education he stays busy tutoring, researching, traveling and exploring Colorado. He’s still working on convincing his parents to visit from Senegal. “But only in the summer,” he joked. “Winter would be too cold!”

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