Challenge, says Lassamy Sesay, is “where the beauty actually lies.” Enrolling in New York University’s part-time MBA program, ranked 4th by U.S. News, while working a full-time job was a challenge he was excited to tackle.
Sesay, 31, works for Pepsi as a general manager in Fairfield County, Connecticut, helping to run sales and operations. After five years at Pepsi in different roles, he decided to go back to school.
“I just wanted to be a better person — and a better businessperson,” he said.
A NEW WORLD
With a desire to learn and work with the best, he applied to only one institution that had what he was looking for: NYU Stern. “I put all my eggs in one basket,” said Sesay, now a part of the 2023 graduating class.
Juggling school and work wasn’t easy but it has inspired him to persevere. “I feel an adrenaline rush in making sure that our customers are good, and then running to school to make sure that I have all my assignments and my class discussions are perfect,” he says.
This isn’t the only time Sesay has had to rise to the occasion.
Born and raised in Sefadu, West Africa, he moved to Harlem, NY at the age of 17. “I was amazed by almost everything and I was afraid of almost everything,” says Sesay about experiencing the culture shock.
As a young child, he had traveled to places like Saudi Arabia, Senegal, and Guinea, to name a few. Sesay used these early childhood experiences as lessons: “I was already armed with the necessary skills to communicate, to empathize and to assimilate with different groups of people,” he says.
But adjusting to New York City required more than just emotional intelligence. Though Sesay had already graduated from high school, his mother thought it would be best to go back to school, get a good foundation, and cover all the bases. The schooling system redirected the family into considering college since Sesay had already graduated.
REJECTION & REDEMPTION
Universities rejected him since his high school was not accredited. This left Sesay with very little choice. The only way out was to go through a community college.
After completing his associate’s degree in New York City, he transferred to the University of Albany with a major in business. “The professors at Albany, based on what I had read at the time, were very good,” says Sesay. And it turned out to be one of the best decisions he could make.
“At the Borough of Manhattan Community college, I was just an avid student, still growing,” says Sesay, “but once I got to Albany, my attention was on school.”
Studying business, a subject that he was passionate about, made this journey exciting.
Growing up, he admired his mother’s entrepreneurial spirit. As a side business, she would buy traditional clothes from Africa and sell to cousins and friends.
Through patience, hard work, and a lot of grit, he became the valedictorian for the class of 2015.
Sesay was only beginning to get comfortable in this new country. “It was a lot of falling down and getting back up,” he says. “But once I got comfortable with the idea that it’s not going to be easy and I’m going to have to put in the work, everything aligned.”