At a Glance

Year: ‘23
Major(s): Business Administration
Activities: Senior Class President, Salesforce Leadership Group, Joy Tong Women in Business, Student Alumni Ambassador

Business Administration BS

Gain the analytical and problem-solving skills that employers seek with UMass Lowell's business administration major.

Business major Anna Kouadio has built an impressive résumé at UMass Lowell: Senior Class President, Salesforce Leadership Group vice president, Joy Tong Women in Business secretary, Student Alumni Ambassador.

It’s even more impressive when you consider how far she’s come in the past decade.

When she was 12 years old, Kouadio got on a plane by herself and left West Africa’s Ivory Coast to live with her dad, Aime, in Lowell. Knowing little English, Kouadio quickly learned the language by reciting flash cards her dad taped to items around the house, watching Disney TV shows and becoming a voracious reader.

One of her favorite books was “A Long Way Gone,” the memoir of Ishmael Beah, a child soldier during the Sierra Leone civil war in the 1990s. Having lived through a civil war in her native Ivory Coast, Kouadio could identify with Beah.

“It was really scary,” says Kouadio, who remembers waking up many mornings at 5 a.m. to hide under the bed with her cousins while rebels who had overtaken their town would start shooting to assert their control. 

“Walking the street with my family and seeing body parts all over — it's not something anyone should ever have to experience,” says Kouadio, who credits her mom, Lea, and extended family members for doing their best to shield her from the trauma of the war, which ended in 2011. Her mom still lives in Ivory Coast.

Kouadio started college at UMass Boston but transferred to UML’s Manning School of Business as a sophomore to be closer to her dad during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“It's the best decision I ever made,” she says. “There are so many opportunities here, and the professors are so great. I fell in love with this school. I don’t know if people say that, but I did. I love being here. It’s kind of like an oasis.”

In addition to her extracurricular activities and her marketing and management studies, Kouadio has worked two jobs to help pay her way through school, as a pharmacy technician at CVS and a bartender at Mill City BBQ and Brew in downtown Lowell.

“I'm not going to lie: I'm not getting as much sleep as I should, but I feel like it's worth it. I feel more anxiety when I don't have things to do,” says Kouadio, who “loves” keeping her busy schedule organized on multiple calendars.

“I've always had to work harder than everybody else around me to catch up, so that gave me the drive to make sure that I'm always doing good,” she says. “And being from Africa, things are very different over there than they are here. There's always been a certain set of goals, or expectations, that my parents have set for me.”

Kouadio plans to continue for her MBA from the Manning School and hopes to work in the hospitality industry. 

“I love communicating with people and getting to know them,” says Kouadio, who has become known at the Manning School for her inclusive personality — usually sitting next to new members at club meetings.

It’s a strength she developed from once being the new kid who barely spoke English.

“I hated that feeling. I don’t think anyone should experience that,” she says. “So, if I can make someone feel better, I will always do that.”

Transferring to UML?

anna headshot
"It's the best decision I ever made. There are so many opportunities here, and the professors are so great."