As a former international student himself, earning degrees in two different continents, Kokou Gadedji, assistant professor at the University of Wisconsin-Platteville School of Business, can relate to the challenges and rewards of adapting to new countries and cultures. Gadedji is being recognized with this year’s Excellence in International Advising Award. The award is presented to a faculty or staff member who has had a significant positive impact on an international student and/or the international student population at the university.
“This recognition means a lot coming from the students. I was surprised,” said Gadedji. “I was an international student in Morocco and in Canada. I tell the international students here to be open to the [Platteville] community, to be open to the American community.”
Gadedji traveled from his home country of Togo to attend business school at ENCG, National School of Business and Management in Settat, Morocco, where he received his bachelor and master’s degrees. He also studied at HEC Montréal in Québec, Canada. Gadedji who is a certified management accountant lived in Canada for seven years, working as an accounting analyst in Toronto and Vancouver, before joining UW-Platteville in 2017. He is currently pursuing his Doctorate of Business Administration at UW-Whitewater, where he has completed all course requirements expect the dissertation. Gadedji acknowledged how it’s important for his students to know his background when teaching his courses focused primarily in accounting and finance.
“My background brings me credibility. The students know I’m not just discussing a textbook, I’m also bringing my professional experiences. I believe when I tell the students I did this, it builds trust and they want to learn more,” he said. “Last semester, I taught Global Business, and we talked about diversity and cultures. I believe some of the students enjoyed that class because I have seen the world – I have lived in four different countries with four different cultures.”
Throughout his tenure at UW-Platteville, Gadedji said he’s interacted with dozens of international students welcoming them to the campus community. One way he assists in helping the international students adjust to Southwest Wisconsin is by attending UW-Platteville’s International Club. The club is open to both American and international students and educates and promotes a global understanding through learning about different cultures.
“I proposed about a year ago to the president of the International Club if we can go and conduct community service around town. Even though we are in the minority position, I would love for us to be more visible. I want us to contribute to the community and do more,” said Gadedji. “I want my students and international students to be engaging in the community.”
As Gadedji prepares for the upcoming fall semester, he’s looking forward to being back in the classroom.
“I love to talk with my students,” he said. “It’s not just about the lecture, it’s about seeing all the potential in the students.”
Gadedji will be recognized at the university’s convocation on Thursday, Sept. 1.