Four students at the University of Houston were recently selected as Forbes Under 30 Scholars. The partnership between Forbes and higher education institutions grants juniors and seniors the chance to attend the 2018 Forbes Under 30 Summit.
This year’s summit took place in Boston Sept. 30-Oct. 3 and offered students with diverse backgrounds the chance to learn and network with game changers and entrepreneurs. The students had access to more than 200 world-class speakers, including business leaders, designers, cultural icons, educators, political figures, celebrities and musicians representing the innovators who make up the Forbes 30 Under 30 list.
Among the students selected are C.T. Bauer College of Business seniors Jadelyn Nava, a finance major; Alejandro Restrepo, supply chain; and Nebil Adam-Omar, management information systems senior; and Cullen College of Engineering senior John Muyiwa, a petroleum engineering major.
The students attended the Boston summit sponsored by UH Energy and Bauer, where they had the chance to meet and pitch their start-up company ideas.
From UH to Boston
As Forbes Scholars, the four represent the go-getter attitude and diversity of the University of Houston.
Nava, a Houston native, was unsure college was for him when he graduated from a high school of predominantly low-income students. After a brief stint at the University of Houston Downtown, he joined the Air Force Reserve. That, along with a part-time job at J.P. Morgan Chase, led him to his passion in finance and UH.
Muyiwa and Restrepo come from different regions of the world. The former was born in Nigeria while the latter emigrated from Colombia with his family as a child. Both say they found in UH a welcoming institution that supports first-generation students.
Nava said they used their time at the Boston summit to forge connections they could bring back to Houston.
“There were days full of conferences, different information sessions and panels where we got to mingle with some of these list makers (people on the 30 Under 30 list) and learn from our peers from different universities and founders from different startups,” Nava said.
A Growing Connection
The students also represented UH at Harvard Business School’s Summer Venture in Management program this summer. There they met students from Ivy League colleges who encouraged them to apply to the Forbes Scholars program.
They took that advice, and at the Boston Summit met with what they described as a group of interesting and diverse leaders: Arlan Hamilton, the first queer black woman to build her own venture capital firm from scratch, and Seth Cohen, senior director of the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation, who gave Muyiwa the opportunity to pitch his online start-up education platform targeted at black millennials.
“We really made some powerful connections out there. People that are willing to solve problems that we care about. They are willing to invest the time and resources to help with that,” Muyiwa said.
Muyiwa described how he came to the world of finance and business. “I think for me it has been a series of breakthroughs, because coming from high school and into petroleum engineering and discovering business and finance was an astonishing surprise,” he said. “I’m discovering this whole different frontier, entrepreneurship and venture capital. It’s like a different space I’m exploring. It has helped me to learn and grow.”
The Boston summit has been an eye opener for the students, showcasing innovation in new areas.
“Before the Forbes Summit I never really saw myself as an entrepreneur,” Restrepo said. “But after the summit, I really opened up my mind to it. I saw entrepreneurship as seeing a problem and pouring all your energy to learning how to fix the problem. It’s not about fixing a problem that hasn’t been fixed yet, it’s about finding a better solution. That just opened my mind to taking more risks.”