By Caroline Brooks
Once feeling like an outsider, Broad student Ridwan Jimoh says he was pushed by his peers and the faculty at Michigan State University to better his outlook, himself, and his community.
“I learned the importance of getting involved, networking, and pushing yourself. The faculty at Broad wants you to succeed and will go the extra mile to make sure you do, but you have to want it and chase it. That has been my mentality every single day since I stepped into the Broad College of Business.”
On May 7, Jimoh will speak at the commencement ceremony for the Broad College of Business before fellow classmates, their families, and the faculty that he admires so much to share his hopes for the future, what he learned from his remarkable past, and what every Spartan will carry with them as they begin their lives off campus.
Coming to the United States from Nigeria with his mother and sister at the age of nine, Jimoh was shocked by the change, the culture, and the struggles they endured to make a life in Michigan. Having to learn the English language, Jimoh also had to adjust to the food and weather, and was cast as an outsider in school.
“My mother was disabled, so it was extremely hard for her to get a good job. I was bullied because I was different and people don’t like what they don’t know,” Jimoh said.
Ever the optimist, Jimoh doesn’t dwell on his rough transition to the U.S. Instead, he reflects on the good stemming from his challenges. “All along the way in school, I had people support me and help get me to where I am today, like my third grade teacher who gave me gloves and winter clothes when I needed them. And, by having a hard time fitting in, I developed a very strong, independent, individual personality,” he said.
What Jimoh experienced in the 10 years before stepping into Michigan State University’s Broad College of Business prepared him for an environment in which he would grow and thrive—and to appreciate the community of which he is now a valued member.
“Being a Spartan means that I am a part of a great community, but I can’t use that as an excuse to not be great myself. I constantly strive to be better than my former self by volunteering my time and giving back, learning from and listening to others, doing what is right, taking care of my neighbors, and empowering myself and others,” he said. As a graduating student, Jimoh’s focus is on what comes next. Putting exam scores aside, he says that the greatest takeaway from four years at Broad is understanding and appreciating diversity.
“Broad provided us with an opportunity to meet individuals from various backgrounds and walks of life, different countries, cultures, ethnicities, and beliefs. Those who have taken advantage of opportunities to engage with students who see life through different lenses are the ones that will ultimately be successful,” he said.
Come summer, Jimoh will take what he learned in the classroom to Accenture, a leading global professional services company, as a management business consultant. But his sense of humility, which existed long before stepping foot on campus, are what will one day bring him back. “I aspire to give back to Michigan State University. I would not be graduating from MSU without the help of others, and I believe that it is extremely critical that I create a path for others to achieve higher education,” he said.
Beyond that, Ridwan’s goal is to leverage his entrepreneurial spirit to improve the world he left behind at the age of nine. “My ultimate goal would be to go back to Nigeria, and use my privileges and blessings to make it a better place. A place where dreams can become realities.”