Family shot of Tisseglos for Christmas

Making dreams come true – Lynx style

Family from West Africa realizing lofty goals together at CU Denver

January 10, 2019

Visitors to the Tisseglo household might fare best if they are CU Denver Lynx fans. Three of the family of five, which uprooted from West Africa in 2012 in search of “a better education,” are Lynx, and one more member has her eyes on the campus.

Keeping it all in the family comes naturally to the tight-knit group, say the two current Lynx.

“We’re best friends,” said Hortisse Tisseglo, 20, the oldest of three sisters, as she grinned at Odette Tisseglo, 18, sitting next to her at a table in the Library Café. “So we always have a friend on campus.”

Both sisters chose and like CU Denver for its urban location and quality programs. But there was another big pull, too.

“Our dad was here,” Hortisse said.

Family leaves home in search of higher education

Lolo Tisseglo, born in West Africa, always planned on coming to the United States for a better education. But it took a long time to achieve his vision. When he was finally able to make the move about seven years ago, his sights were set on seeing his daughters attain quality educations.

“Education, I think, is the key to success,” said Tisseglo, whose youngest daughter, Suzanne, 16, will consider CU Denver after high school. “If you want to progress, you have to have education,” he said.

Tisseglo has always been a goal-setter, his daughters said.

“He’s really smart, really calm and really motivated,” Hortisse said of her father, who founded and leads a nonprofit aimed at lifting West Africans up from poverty through education. “When he sets his mind on something, he does make it happen.”

Lolo Tisseglo graduates, family at his side
A Family Affair: Lolo Tisseglo graduated last summer from CU Denver with his family members (two of whom are also Lynx) in attendance. Here, his wife (right) and oldest daughter pose for a proud moment.

Architecture degree fulfills dad’s childhood dream

After moving his family to Aurora and launching a Denver branch of his organization, Tisseglo found CU Denver and an opportunity to fulfill his own long-held dream: to be an architect.

“Since my childhood, I’ve loved buildings,” he said. “My dad worked in the building area.”

Managing some days on only two hours of sleep, Tisseglo’s determination paid off last summer, when he earned his bachelor’s degree from the College of Architecture and Planning.

“It was hard, very hard, because I have to work and support my family and the education of the family,” said Tisseglo (BS ’18). “But at the end, it was important.”

Despite being “so proud of him” for graduating, the sisters miss having Dad on campus.

“Sometimes, he’d buy me lunch, so it helped me save money,” said Hortisse, a biology major with her sights set on the CU Anschutz Medical Campus. “Or sometimes, we’d ride the Light Rail home together.”

“They ask you to set a goal every semester, and they try to push you on the way so that you succeed.”

– Lolo Tisseglo on TRiO Student Support Services

Dad leads his Lynx to university resources

Having a CU Denver student for a dad helped the Tisseglo daughters learn the Lynx ropes, as he introduced them to campus resources.

While a student, Tisseglo said he spent much time at TRiO Student Support Services, a program aimed at socially and academically supporting underrepresented students.

“They ask you to set a goal every semester, and they try to push you on the way so that you succeed,” said Tisseglo, who took advantage of TRiO’s mentoring, computer labs, and financial counseling, gaining scholarships through the Colorado Opportunity Scholarship Initiative.

Both resources and aesthetics drove Tisseglo to the Auraria Library, including a Writing Center, computer labs, study alcoves and outdoor courtyards.

“I could work and do my research, and the architecture of this building inspired me a lot,” he said, gazing up at the large pipes dissecting bare ceilings amid an open and boldly colorful interior design.

Tisseglo family all dressed up
Lolo Tisseglo, (BS ’18) sits surrounded by his family, including (left to right) his wife, “Mama” Tisseglo, and daughters, Odette, Suzanne and Hortisse.

Teachers, technology, togetherness bind it all

Along with her paternal Lynx, CU Denver’s faculty was a chief attraction for Odette.

“I really like the teachers,” she said, using her neuroscience instructor as an example. “When you ask questions, she doesn’t make you feel bad. She just explains it again and gives you an example that you can relate with.”

CU Denver instructors stand out for their passion and experience, she said.

“They are excited, so it makes you excited,” said Odette, a psychology major considering law school.

Odette relaxes through art and enjoys being at a university in the midst of a metropolitan art scene. Hortisse, who aims to open a medical clinic in West Africa, said CU Denver was the best choice for her field. Both women say they see promising futures ahead.

“CU Denver has been so helpful,” Odette said. “We have a goal, and we are going to get there.”