Success Stories

Expanding his comfort zone has enabled Malik Cole to excel at WCSU

Malik Cole

Malik Cole

Malik Cole, a junior studying Accounting with a minor in Finance at Western Connecticut State University, has experienced both the easy and the hard sides of life. The easy: mathematics. “My major was a very easy decision on my end,” he said. “I knew I would be doing something with math because math always has come easy to me. It feels good to do a balance sheet. When it comes to doing numbers, let me handle it, don’t you worry.”

The hard side for Cole came as an 8th grader growing up in Brooklyn. “Some kids jumped me on the street and stole my sneakers,” he said. “I realized I could either go home and cry about it, or I could go shoot some basketball.” So, he went to see his trainer at A&M Sports Academy, a youth sports organization based in Brooklyn that seeks to foster self-confidence, discipline, responsibility and a healthy and active lifestyle while also establishing meaningful long-term friendships through sports.

“Mentors are important,” Cole said. “Ray Abellard and Andre Murrary at A&M helped train me to be a better basketball player, and they also gave me amazing life experiences. My freshman year in high school, they took me to Haiti, where I could see that people there have even harder times there than we do here. We did community service and raised funds so a dentist could be brought in to see the kids. I enjoyed being able to support the people there. Dancing with the kids and seeing their smiles is something I will never forget.”

Cole also had the opportunity to attend Brant Lake Sports Camp, a 7-week long sleepaway camp in the Adirondacks, which not only exposed him to a wide variety of sports in addition to basketball, but also prepared him to be independent — which has come in handy as a residential student at WCSU. Cole attended for 4 years as a camper, and has been working there as a counselor for the past three summers.

How he came to WCSU was also easy and hard. “I excelled at basketball in middle school,” he said. “Then I spent two years in the public schools before I transferred to St. Edmund’s Preparatory High School because it was in the more competitive Catholic High School league. But Covid hit, and we had drive-through graduation and no scouts were allowed at our basketball games, which was difficult. We had a spring tournament and my coach called WCSU basketball coach Rancourt to come and watch me play. I visited the campus in the spring, and I really liked how it felt here.”

Cole has been a small forward and power forward for WestConn Wolves Basketball since his freshman year. Last year, as a sophomore, he was second on the team in field goals percentage, on the CSC Academic All-District Team, the Little East All-Academic Team and the Little East Academic Honor Roll. He also has a work-study job in the university’s Cashier’s Office, which from his perspective, is a dream job. “I get to assist people with their billing, payment plans and accounts. I update their payments and information in the system. It’s giving me journal entry experience and a lot of accounting experience, so I love it.”

His on-campus boss, Bursar Erica Thompson, said, “Aside from working 20 hours/week in my office, he is on the basketball team, and earns a 3.77 GPA. He just was accepted into an internship for the summer for a Big 4 accounting firm in NYC. His smile and personality light up any room he is in, and I’m so proud of everything he has accomplished. He is such a hard worker and wonderful person.”

Cole describes himself as quiet and reserved, and says at WCSU he has been working hard to come out of his comfort zone. “I really enjoy it here,” he said. “It’s a very different environment from where I grew up and it took a little while to adjust to. I grew up only around black and brown people. Everyone here is a different color and culture, and WCSU embraces that. It’s great that they embrace everyone here, no matter where you’re from, with events where everyone can experience each other’s culture and food.”

As his junior year winds down and his senior year approaches, it appears that Cole has put the hard part behind him. His work ethic and summer internship — coupled with his infectious smile and personality — should be a slam-dunk toward his well-deserved success.



Western Connecticut State University changes lives by providing all students with a high-quality education that fosters their growth as individuals, scholars, professionals and leaders in a global society. Our vision: To be widely recognized as a premier public university with outstanding teachers and scholars who prepare students to contribute to the world in a meaningful way.