Improving the World Starts With Improving Home for UVA Darden Student From Cameroon

By Jay Hodgkins

Jean-Marie Menga (Class of 2016) knew his mission before he arrived at the University of Virginia Darden School of Business: Be a leader for his hometown in Cameroon.

He and his family, including eight siblings, saved enough money to buy a 66-seat bus to carry young children in their small town to nearby schools, which are all several miles away. As a college undergraduate student in Connecticut and, later, working for United Technologies Corp., Menga would send money to old friends in need. However, his efforts were like the bus itself — able to help some, but not enough to serve all.

Professor Bobby Parmar urged Menga to narrow his focus to how he could best help his home, create a plan and form a group of people dedicated to the cause. He’s following that advice, and meets with his family whenever possible to discuss how they can create sustainable opportunities in their home country.

After graduation, Menga will work as an investment banker in New York. He even used his signing bonus to buy a second 66-passenger bus for his hometown. He believes the job provides the best opportunity to develop his business skills, learn how to manage different types of businesses, understand the financial markets and send capital home, all of which will help execute his vision for development projects in Cameroon.

Menga is devising ideas to improve the country’s infrastructure through better roads and access to transportation, improved storage and distribution of agricultural products, and quality affordable housing.

“I believe everyone has the capacity to do amazing things,” Menga says. “The only differences are opportunities and willpower. Where I come from, there is a lack of opportunity, and I want to create it for them.”

About the University of Virginia Darden School of Business

The University of Virginia Darden School of Business prepares responsible global leaders through unparalleled transformational learning experiences. Darden’s graduate degree programs (MBA, MSBA and Ph.D.) and Executive Education & Lifelong Learning programs offered by the Darden School Foundation set the stage for a lifetime of career advancement and impact. Darden’s top-ranked faculty, renowned for teaching excellence, inspires and shapes modern business leadership worldwide through research, thought leadership and business publishing. Darden has Grounds in Charlottesville, Virginia, and the Washington, D.C., area and a global community that includes 18,000 alumni in 90 countries. Darden was established in 1955 at the University of Virginia, a top public university founded by Thomas Jefferson in 1819 in Charlottesville, Virginia.


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