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Montgomery College Student Success Stories

Alumnus Overcomes Obstacles in Quest for Education
Montgomery College Today, Fall '03

Gilles-Arnaud Bleu-LaineAt the age of 18, Gilles-Arnaud Bleu-Laine packed his bags and left his parents and his home behind. Bleu-Laine grew up in Ivory Coast, a West African country, but his parents believed he would find better schools in the United States. To receive his degree, Bleu-Laine struggled with many issues. He wrestled with the English language, realizing too late that his classes in Ivory Coast were inadequate. Worse, civil war broke out back home. As Bleu-Laine tried to concentrate on his studies, he learned rebels seized and vandalized the family home in the west. His parents stayed protected in the family’s second home, but their financial support to Bleu-Laine was cut off. Bleu-Laine turned to MC-Rockville Professor Don Day and Mary Ann Beatty, dean of student development, for help. Both Day and Beatty urged Bleu-Laine to continue his education while they investigated scholarship options. Ultimately, a Montgomery College Foundation scholarship paid for his final semester at Montgomery College.

“It really was a big help because I didn’t know how to pay,” Bleu-Laine recalled. While the scholarship enabled him to afford his education, Bleu-Laine credits Day, a professor of engineering and physics, for inspiring his love of learning. Shortly after the two met, Bleu-Laine switched his major to electrical engineering. The College’s smaller class sizes provided opportunities for Bleu-Laine and Day to talk and learn about one another. From there, a friendship developed. Bleu-Laine feels that Day supported him like a father. “However,” said Bleu-Laine,“ he’s a father to everyone.” This fall, Bleu-Laine transferred to Georgia Tech, where he is now pursuing a bachelor of science/master’s degree in electrical engineering. “I can make my way in engineering school, thanks to Professor Day,” he said. “In fact,” he said, “I’m just trying to follow in Professor Day’s footsteps and get my Ph.D. from MIT, just like him.”