For Alaman Diadhiou, Yale is where he could be all he chose
A bus breakdown on the Connecticut shoreline during Alaman Diadhiou’s high school tour of East Coast colleges limited his Yale visit to less than 30 minutes. But even in that short time he knew he had found his college.
During that visit a student tour guide promised Diadhiou and the other prospective students that they could express all parts of themselves at Yale, that their experience would be one of limitless opportunities. For Diadhiou — a tap dancer, singer, literature lover, basketball player, and civic-minded citizen of both American and Senegalese heritage — these words were music to his ears.
The tour guide was right. At Yale, Diadhiou said, he never felt pressure to choose one passion over another, one aspect of his being over another.
“Yale has been one of the few places that respects me holistically,” said Diadhiou, a Benjamin Franklin College senior. “Here, I’m not solely a dancer or a singer or an academic. Yale has been a launchpad for me to express myself in multifaceted, multidisciplinary ways.”
A Los Angeles native, Diadhiou was an accomplished tap dancer and singer before arriving at Yale. He grew up at the Debbie Allen Dance Academy, starred at 10 years old in a production of “Twist: An American Musical,” and was a U.S. Presidential Scholar in the Arts for tap dance in 2019. His YouTube channel has attracted more than 10 million views, and his film credits include the 2022 musical comedy “Spirited” starring Will Ferrell and Ryan Reynolds.
At Yale, he’s also been a member of the a cappella group Shades, and he performed at the 2022 Spring Fling. He recently showcased his singing and dancing talents for Yale President Peter Salovey and members of Yale’s board of trustees, treating them to original compositions and cover versions of some of Diadhiou’s favorite performers, who include Michael Jackson, Whitney Houston, Brian McKnight, and Kendrick Lamar.
As a scholar with the Multidisciplinary Academic Program in Human Rights, a Yale Law School program for undergraduates, Diadhiou wrote an original composition about accepting transition, called “Colors,” as his capstone project. For his thesis as a comparative literature major, he wrote an analysis of Black Anglophone and Francophone literature between the 1930s and 1960s, demonstrating that Black identity “is not monolithic.”
In Benjamin Franklin College, Diadhiou was manager of the residential college’s recording studio, played club basketball, and was a first-year counselor. “A central theme for what I’d like to do in my life is to ‘pay it forward,’” he says. “What better way than to be a positive force in students’ formative first year? If there was a moment where some small piece of advice I gave them helped, I’m happy.”
Diadhiou graduates as the first in his family to attend an Ivy League school and the first on his father’s side to graduate college. After graduation he will move back to Los Angeles to pursue a career as a performing artist.
“The thing that’s most important to me is to search for the possibilities of what I can do as an artist, as an academic, as a citizen of the world,” he said. “Putting Black diasporic communities in conversation with one another is part of my larger aim. Art is universal.”