Our College Graduates: Benjamin Imbolo
Congratulations again, my brother. We are proud of your hard work, determination, and accomplishments. You’re an inspiration and we wish you the very best in your future endeavors. Thank you for accepting the invitation to be featured on the FLOCA blog.
My name is Benjamin Imbolo. I was born in Kinshasa, Congo and came to the U.S. when I was 7 years old. My parents and I made that move so that they can provide for me a better education and opportunity in life. I grew up in a very structured household and was raised by my sister and her husband. Education and church were emphasized. Through being involved in sports at a young I was able to gain certain skills that have helped me in my educational endeavors, professional career, and in my social life. My favorite quote comes from the Bible, Jeremiah 29:11 (For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future). Due to the opportunities I’ve been afforded through my family and others, I have dedicated my life to providing the same opportunities for others.
The mission of FLOCA is “empowerment through education and servant leadership. What does this mean to you?”
Empowerment through education and servant leadership means everything to me and I believe is a part of my purpose in life, other than providing for my family. Especially for individuals like myself who migrated from developing countries. It is especially important for individuals like myself who migrated from developing countries that we take advantage of all the opportunities provided to us here in the U.S. and acquire the resources so we can empower and serve those less fortunate.
Did you attend high school in the US? If so can you please tell us a little bit about your experience? (Were you an active student? What activities/programs did you participate in and how did these activities help you in your journey?
Yes I attended high school (elementary and middle) here in the U.S. I attended East Forsyth high school in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. It had the biggest population amongst all of the high schools in the Forsyth County and had a great reputation. The school didn’t really specialize in anything (which I didn’t like), it just offered basic courses that every student took. Most of the specialized programs were to top performing students which left regular students such as myself just taking regular classes without an idea of what we had actual interest in. I was active in the football team and played an important role in many winning seasons. From football I learned a lot of life lessons, strategy building, teamwork, and the essence of working hard. These are skills and attributes that I utilize in my everyday life. I was also active in the French Club and Black Student Alliance. Other than sports, I also participated in Upward bound, which is a college prep program for African-American students. Upward Bound provided me with the college experience at a young age which sparked interest in attending college and being a part of a fraternity.
What would you have done differently in high school?
I would have definitely committed myself more in the classroom. I was so focused on becoming on football star that I didn’t put my best in the classroom. Coming in from middle school I was an all A student but that changed in high school due to a lack of focus and commitment. I would have taken more STEM courses or maybe attended an STEM based school.
Why did you choose NC A & T State University?
During high school I always had aspirations of playing collegiate football but things didn’t plan out that way so A&T was sort of my last option. I had some family members who attended A&T and spoke very highly of it so I had some familiarity with the university. Attending A&T ended up being the best decision I’ve ever made and I got confirmation about that during the summer before my freshmen year where a random individual predicted many wonderful things will happen during my tenure at A&T, which all happened. So attending A&T was written in God’s books for me and that’s where my blessings were.
Why did you pursue Supply Chain Management as a major?
I pursued a degree in supply chain management which is an offset of industrial Engineering which I originally planned on studying. Supply Chain provided me with the business fundamentals, data analysis, and strategy building skills. I do plan on going back to school to pursue my masters in engineering degree, and later an MBA.
How important is mentorship in developing young achievers and leaders?
I think mentorship in developing young achievers and leaders is very imperative because in order to succeed you must have some sort of leadership or mentorship to guide you along the way. The reason why I always wanted to be successful in life is because I always had great mentors and leaders in my life such as coaches, counselors, neighborhood friends, and family members to look up to and tap into their expertise. These individuals helped me develop my own vision of being an achiever and leader.
You’re a very proud member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. What is the mission of your fraternity and how has being an Alpha man benefited you and prepared you to enter the professional world?
The mission of my great fraternity is “Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Incorporated develops leaders, promotes brotherhood and academic excellence, while providing service and advocacy for our communities”. To me this means it’s my mission to develop and uplift others while advocating the importance of education and service. The brotherhood part is very important being that we’re in a world where “Blacks” always seems to be having a problem getting along or just being there for one another. But that just doesn’t pertain to blacks, I look at any male as my brother and I am willing to assist in any way I can.
Were you involved in other organizations that were instrumental in your college career?
Being a Peer Mentor and participating in campus ministries were instrumental in my college career. The Peer Mentor role was the first leadership position I’ve ever held other than being team captain in sports. The PM position not only put me on a pedestal but thought me what it means to truly be a leader, and how to conduct myself as a responsible and impactful employee. Participating in campus ministries really developed me spiritually and got me through some tough times during college.
Looking back at your journey from high school through college, what advice would you give those who are following behind?
Looking back at my journey from high school through college, I would advise those behind me to always listen when somebody is giving them advice. Because if anybody would take time out of their day to give you advice that means they either care about you or see something within you. Another thing I would advise them is to develop a serious relationship with the Lord at an early age and continuously seek to develop that relationship.
One of my favorite women, The First Lady Michelle Obama once said, “When you’ve worked hard, and done well, and walked through that doorway of opportunity…you do not slam it shut behind you…you reach back, and you give other folks the same chances that helped you success.” Do you think you and others have the responsibility to “pay it forward” in the Congolese community and their local communities in general? If yes, what role can you play in helping the Congolese community of NC?
I definitely do think myself and others are responsible to “pay it forward” in the Congolese community and their local communities in general. The role that I want and will play is that of a mentor. I think mentorship is one of many things we lack and I want to tackle that issue. Through mentorship I hope that I can have an impact and “pay it forward” to my community.