Ivory Coast Native N’Dri Diby Shares His Passion for Math with Fellow Students


May 01, 2017

N'Dri Diby

N'Dri Diby

N’Dri (Prudence) Diby, an MATC Liberal Arts and Sciences student from Africa’s Ivory Coast, has been passionate about mathematics since he was a child. He speaks enthusiastically about the way mathematics is woven into every part of life – bringing sense, order and beauty to the world.

“You cannot escape mathematics,” he said. “Math is the only subject I know that is connected to all studies.” He’s in good company in his beliefs. Diby quotes Galileo Galilei who once said, “Mathematics is the language in which God has written the universe.”

Diby and five of his seven siblings have made the journey from the Ivory Coast to study in U.S. “We talked about it as a family,” he said. “My dad wanted us to have a better education and the adventure of going to a new place. We wanted to expand our educational opportunities and get the chance to become fluent in English.” French is the predominant language in Ivory Coast. Two of Diby’s older siblings began their university studies in France, but later decided that they would learn more being immersed in an English-speaking culture.

Diby and his brother Roland arrived in the U.S. in late 2011, and enrolled in English as a Second Language classes at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. They originally considered living in New York but were drawn to the Midwest because some of their older siblings attended UW-Milwaukee and the University of Minnesota.


N'Dri Diby tutors student LaTanya Williams.

MATC is a “School of Opportunity”

The brothers enrolled at Milwaukee Area Technical College in 2013. “We chose MATC because we knew we could get applied, practical knowledge here,” N’Dri said. “MATC is a school of opportunity. It offers you a platform to hone your skills and build confidence around what you learn.”

N’Dri has turned that opportunity into the pursuit of academic excellence. He is a member of the Phi Theta Kappa honor society, and his high grade point averages have landed him on the President’s List and the Provost’s List in past semesters. He is applying for other honors as well. He expects to graduate from MATC this month with an associate of science degree. His brother Roland anticipates graduating from MATC in December 2017 with an associate degree in chemical technology.

N’Dri plans to continue at MATC next fall. With credits already earned from his associate of science degree, he expects to be able to also complete associate degree requirements in business management within a year. Then he plans to transfer his credits to a four-year university to earn a bachelor’s degree in actuarial science. He would like to work as an actuary for an insurance company. Eventually, he wants to return to the Ivory Coast and share his experience and insight to help develop the insurance industry in his home country.

“I want to give back to my country,” he said. “There already is an established insurance industry in the Ivory Coast. But, everything needs improvement. Each generation needs to play their part in developing my country.”


N'Dri Diby (standing) and his brother Roland Diby (seated)
talk with other tutors in MATC's Tutoring Center.

Tutoring Inspires Possible Future Career

Alternatively, he is considering continuing his education and becoming a mathematics professor. “I’m all about achieving my full potential,” he said. “I need to go where I have the best opportunity to let my light shine.”

Diby is getting a taste of teaching by serving in many roles as an MATC math tutor. He began tutoring Pre-College students in mathematics as a volunteer. He has since held numerous paid tutoring positions at the college.

In addition to helping students individually in the Tutoring Center, he has branched out to participate in two programs which involve the tutor attending classes with other students and then holding tutoring sessions for classmates after each session. Diby has served as a supplemental instructor (SI) in a mathematics classes and currently is a student learning assistant (SLA) in a business mathematics class. The difference – classmates are required to attend the SLA tutoring sessions; the SI tutoring sessions are voluntary.

Diby also tutors new MATC students before they take the Accuplacer placement test and has just taken an additional position tutoring veterans in MATC’s new Veterans Resource Center.


Diby is congratulated by MATC Provost Mohammad Dakwar (right)
at the Phi Theta Kappa Induction Ceremony.

We chose MATC because we knew we could get applied, practical knowledge here. MATC is a school of opportunity. It offers you a platform to hone your skills and build confidence around what you learn.

N’Dri (Prudence) Diby MATC Student

Diby said he has learned a great deal from being a tutor. He often works with students who intimidated by mathematics. “I have developed patience and listening skills,” he said. “I try to explain math from different perspectives. Sometimes, I have to explain things four or five times. There are different ways to get to an answer. You have to find the combination that suits you.”

Roger Plath, MATC manager of tutoring services and academic support centers, speaks highly of the student tutoring program and of Diby. “We find student tutors very effective,” he said. “Sometimes students are more comfortable asking questions of the tutors, no matter how good their instructors are. The say they don’t have to worry about ‘looking dumb’ to their instructors. N’Dri is doing a great job, has lots of energy and a smile that doesn’t quit.”

Diby said he finds his tutoring very rewarding. “Students often come back to thank me and tell me I helped them understand the material.  I celebrate every day that I’m tutoring. Tutoring makes my day.”

For more information on MATC's associate of science degree, visit:http://www.matc.edu/las/degrees/associate-in-science-liberal-arts-transfer.cfm