Securing a Future
“Once you learn these things, your future is set for the rest of your life. It’ll pay off.”

Student of the Month: Stone Dieme

When Ansouman “Stone” Dieme heard about his employer’s education benefits offering programs in trades education for free, he was excited about the opportunity to learn something outside of his comfort zone. Originally from Senegal, Stone moved to the U.S. in 1995 and earned his associate degree in computer science. Stone knew a lot about technology — but he wanted to push himself to do something less familiar. “I challenged myself to do HVACR because I knew nothing about it,” Stone said. “It was more challenging, but it was more fun, too. It’s a lot of stuff to take in, it’s a lot of terminology, and there’s a lot of material to cover, but I’m glad I was able to make it happen.”

Stone was the first employee in his district to earn his diploma, and he completed the HVACR program in only three months. That’s quite a feat — so how did he do it? Through hard work, determination, and (most importantly) a consistent schedule. While he was in the program, Stone studied for two hours every morning. After his study session, he would go to the gym to work out and clear his mind before heading to work. When he got off work at 10 p.m., he returned to his schoolwork for another two hours. It took a lot of persistence to stick to his schedule, but Stone’s family supported him through it all. “I studied at our dining table the whole time,” Stone reflected. “I’m glad my family gave me the chance to study, to give me time to concentrate, and they believed in me.”

Stone’s wife and son weren’t his only supporters throughout the process — he also had help along the way from his Guild Education coach, Amanda. “Amanda was a blessing in my life. She would talk to me as if I was her neighbor,” Stone said. “Any time I got a good grade, she would send me an email to celebrate. We always had fun, laughing and learning more about the program, and she was the best supporter ever. I made a friend for life.”

Despite his dedication to the program and the support he received, Stone still faced challenges while earning his diploma. Shortly before starting the HVACR program, he took a trip to Senegal to visit his mother. Only a month and a half later, while he was halfway through his trades program, Stone’s mother passed away. He was heartbroken, but he chose to continue with his schoolwork. “When I feel down, I think about what she told me when I went to see her,” he said. “She told me, ‘Whatever you’re doing right now, keep going, because I believe in you and I know you can do it.’”

Even though he experienced ups and downs during his time in the program, Stone remained enthusiastic about graduating. And after three months of hard work — his diploma arrived. “I remember coming home at 10:00 at night after a long day of work,” Stone recounted. “When I saw the package in the mailbox, I didn’t even make it inside the house. I cut it open, and I jumped up and down with it and yelled ‘It’s here! It’s here!’ It was so surreal.”

Stone certainly didn’t keep his diploma under wraps. He took it to work for the next three days and showed it to his coworkers and managers. All of the hard work Stone put into earning his diploma wasn’t just for himself, though. As a manager of three departments, he wanted to show other employees that it was possible for them to earn their diploma, too. “I want to inspire people,” he said. “If I could do it as a busy manager, as a busy father and husband and everything else that happened in my life — if I could do it, they can do it, too.”

Stone says his advice for students is to “just make time for it. It doesn’t matter what time of day. You will always have time to have fun, but focus on this program because it only takes three months depending on how you want to study. Once you learn these things, your future is set for the rest of your life. It’ll pay off.”

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Written by Guild Education