He wanted to do something more practical with his theoretical knowledge of mathematics.
‘At the University of Gothenburg I found a master’s course with a perfect blend of mathematics and finance. It was exactly what I was looking for’, says Ababacar Diagne.
He is an open person, easy to talk to, and it is obvious that he navigates both the complicated and mundane with ease. Ababacar, or ‘Baba’, as his friends call him, acknowledges with an embarrassed smile that it has always been easy for him to learn, both in school and outside it.
‘During my time in high school, I read a lot, both French and African fiction. Actually, I was more interested in literature than mathematics at first, but then I switched.’
Two years ago, Ababacar completed his doctorate in numerical analysis. During his doctoral studies, he divided his time between Senegal Gaston Berger University and the Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm because he had received a scholarship and been accepted into an internationally oriented doctorate programme.
‘It was a so-called ‘sandwich programme’ and I had a supervisor in Senegal and one in Stockholm. At first, I spoke mostly English in Sweden, but two years ago I felt that I wanted to learn the Swedish language,’ says Ababacar, who also speaks fluent French and English in addition to Swedish and Wolof, his native language.
Three months ago he came to Gothenburg.
‘I wanted to drop theoretical math for something more applicable. Financial mathematics has always interested me, and when I started looking around me, I found a master’s course in financial mathematics at the University of Gothenburg, a collaboration between the Department of Mathematical Sciences and the School of Economics. That combination suits me perfectly, I thought.’
Friends shook their heads, wondering why he would go back to university again after getting his doctorate?
‘My choice lived up to my expectations. Now I am studying mathematics especially oriented to finance, the teachers are very good and the research is interesting. It’s the right combination for me because I want to be able to return home to Senegal and use my knowledge there. I would very much like to teach at university and also work as a consultant in industry.’
Before the autumn semester began, Ababacar had barely seen Gothenburg, but every day he finds everything better in the city. Recently he explored Biljardpalatset along with his new classmate, Leonard. Billiards was a new game for him, but as in all the sports he has tried so far, it went well, of course and his competitive instinct did not fail him.
Ababacar enjoys Sweden but wants to go home after his studies. Each month he sends money home to his parents and siblings in Senegal. It’s possible he might remain in Sweden and work for a few years to, as he puts it, ‘pay back the hospitality and the privilege to be able to study here’.
‘The most valuable thing I am getting here in Sweden is the knowledge that I can bring home with me. Senegal is a developing country, of course, and I want to share what I’ve learnt with my countrymen in my generation and the next one. Once, a friend asked me what the meaning of life is. For me, the meaning of life is that everyone helps each other and that I can contribute.’
Name: Ababacar Diagne
Education: Student in the master’s programme in financial mathematics. Has a PhD in numerical analysis.
Born in: Saint Louis, Senegal
Lives in: Hisingen
Hobbies: Literature. Running, with favourite distance of 10 km.