In the four years Dorchester resident Abdoul Diallo has lived in the U.S. he has touched and inspired lives worldwide. From participating in constructing a playground for an orphanage in St. Croix to helping build housing for the homeless in Honduras, this 18-year-old has been deemed a leader.
"He is definitely a future diplomat. Someone who will make a difference in this world," said Katharine Kilbourn, Diallo's former humanities teacher at the Boston International High School (BIHS). "Abdoul has been one of my best students. He is an incredible listener and a well-thought activist. He's just done so much since he has been here."
Now a senior at BIHS, Abdoul has emerged an honors student earning the highest grade point average in his class (3.8).
"Education is of the utmost importance to me and to my family," said Diallo, who immigrated from Burkina Faso, West Africa in 2004. "My parents worked very hard to get me here so that I could receive the best education. They are the reason I push forward everyday - it is my thank you to them."
Honoring his parent's wish for him to succeed, Diallo says he transferred from Boston Community Leadership Academy (the first school he attended) because it was not "challenging" enough.
"They were letting me slide by and I wasn't even learning," he explained. "I spoke hardly any English and was struggling through assignments, yet I was passing. Once I enrolled in BIHS, I took ESL classes and received the attention I needed [after six months he passed the MCAS, scoring proficient in English and advanced in Math]. There was always someone there to help. I feel that has gotten me a long way."
Tim Likosky, Diallo's guidance counselor and soccer coach says Abdoul is well respected among his peers and his teachers.
"He is a leader in our school, one of the top students. He has just shown a lot of maturity, put in unlimited effort and goes out of his way to help the younger students. People respond to him and he leads by example."
Voted class president and an all-star soccer player, Diallo says his primary commitment is to community service and helping others.
"It is my connection to my country," said Diallo. "Growing up, I watched people struggle to survive day after day and there was nothing I could do to help them. Now I have the chance to help those who are in need and I will take every opportunity to do so. I feel connected to home every time I help someone."
While his parents remain in Africa, Diallo resides with his sisters Leah, 24, and Aisseta, 28, and says the three of them work hard to support one another.
"My parents have come to visit us and they are very proud of how we have been able to stand on our own," said Diallo who works as a waiter in a downtown Boston restaurant. "I speak to them regularly and update them about my progress. They joy that brings them is worth it all - I want them to know that their fight was not in vain."
Aspiring to become a marine biologist, Abdoul Diallo has applied to several colleges such as Tufts University and Hawaii Pacific University. "I have always been interested in the ocean and sea animals," he said. "But my main goal is to organize youth centers and family service organizations back home and various other countries lacking those resources."
In June, Diallo plans to return to Africa for the first time since he left four years ago and perform community service back home.
"I'm ready and it is time," he said.