Meet the 2019 Bezos Scholars!

Contributed by
JONATHAN BANZA
2018 Bezos Scholar
Categories
Student Stories

Scholar Spotlight: 2018 Scholar Jonathan Banza

What are you up to right now? What projects and new ideas are exciting you personally, academically?
For the next six months after my graduation I will be dedicating my time towards scaling up the Phambili Initiative, a non-profit organization that I co-founded in 2017. The Phambili Initiative connects high school seniors to accountable university mentors and hosts informative workshops that assist these high school seniors with the university application process and educate them about adjusting to life beyond high school. The Phambili Initiative is targeted at low-income and soon to be first-generation university students in South Africa. As part of scaling up my initiative, I have been very fortunate to be amongst a group of 30 social entrepreneurs from throughout the globe, to be selected for the Watson Institute Semester Incubator, which will be taking place in Boulder, Colorado over the Fall.  I am extremely excited about this opportunity; I believe will equip me with the necessary skills to increase the impact of my initiative and lead to my development as a young social entrepreneur. 

Have you been keeping in touch with your Bezos scholar cohort, and if so – how?
Yes, technology has made it a bit easier for me to keep in touch with my fellow Bezos Scholar cohort, despite the difference in time zones. We have a Facebook group and now and then someone always sends a message to check on everyone or update the group about an achievement. A big shout out to Brandon for always initiating conversations in the group. 

Which influential books, albums, podcasts or films would you personally recommend to the BSP community of curious minds?
I am currently reading The First 90 Days by Michael Watkins. This book was given to me by my good friend and fellow African Leadership Academy Bezos Scholar, Samkelo Ntetha. As much as this book is focused mainly on the transition of new management leaders in an organization, I would recommend it to anyone that is looking at taking up an internship or starting a new job position, Watkins shares some crucial insights on how to become an asset for any organization or firm that you are part of.  The other books on my lists are New Power by Jeremy Heimans and Henry Timms, and Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell. 

Who or what are you finding inspiration in right now?
I am currently inspired by the people of Sudan, who are uniting and showing great courage by speaking truth to power, even if it is at the cost of their lives. Even though it seems like the world has deserted them in this struggle and have turned a blind eye to the violence that’s taking place in the country, the people Sudan are still very determined to fight for what they believe is just and right. This has inspired me to be unafraid to challenge the unjust things around me and to always speak my truth. 

Anything else you want to share with the BSP community?
I have been selected from a very competitive pool of social entrepreneurs throughout the world to attend the Watson Institute Semester Incubator. The Watson Semester incubator is a business accelerator program for the world’s promising young innovators, leaders and entrepreneurs. The program helps these young leaders, like myself, accelerate our ideas for impact and solve some of the world’s toughest problems through training and access to an international network.

Contributed by
JONATHAN BANZA
2018 Bezos Scholar
Categories
Student Stories