In this episode of the podcast, we speak with Ousmane Diarra, a Beat the Streets graduate and mentor. Ousmane has such an inspirational journey, starting when he first arrived in the United States at age seven from Mali. Even though he didn't even speak English at first, Ousmane was never one to shy away from hard work, so he spent the whole summer teaching himself.
After working his way to becoming the valedictorian of his middle school, Ousmane attended Central High School, one of the top schools in Philadelphia. During his sophomore year, Ousmane discovered the sport of wrestling. “I was one of those people who got committed and dedicated really fast,” Ousmane explains. “That’s all I could think about.”
Ousmane explains how wrestling taught him the value of hard work. “When you put in a certain amount of effort, it shows, because you’re the only person wrestling. If you’re wrestling someone and you lose, and then you put in more effort next year and you win, that’s such a rewarding feeling. And that reinforces the value of hard work.”
Not just hard work though, Ousmane says, wrestling also teaches accountability “because only you know how hard you’re pushing yourself. And every day at practice when you have that last to give and you don’t give it, you just know you could have done more. And it’s all reflective of how you perform in matches.”
Ousmane talks about the importance of the Beat the Streets community in his life. “Beat the Streets is like a second family to me at this point,” he says. He became more involved during his junior year when he frequently went to the mentoring center for homework help and test prep. Through Beat the Streets, Ousmane met University of Pennsylvania medical student Eric Friedman who became an important mentor to him. Eric helped him prepare for the ACTs and inspired him through the college application process.
Now Ousmane is working towards a Master’s Degree in Public Health at Drexel University. He is also helping to conduct cutting edge research in vaccines with Dr. Harvey Rubin, the founder of Energize the Chain.
He dedicates so much of his time to helping out and mentoring younger student athletes at Beat the Streets. Ousmane explains why mentoring is so important. “I love seeing growth from the kids. I just love seeing when they first come into the mentoring center how they’re doing with school and how their attitudes change with school. To now when they’re regulars at the mentoring center. They’re the new leaders. They’re leading kids to do the same thing they’ve been doing in the past. I just love seeing whenever kids grow personally and they grow academically. That’s a really big thing for me.”
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