Meet AJ, An Engineer and A Social Entrepreneur
UH petroleum engineering student Ayoola "AJ" John-Muyiwa, 22, was selected as a 2018 Forbes ‘Under 30 Scholar’ and attended the Forbes Under 30 Summit in Boston this fall on invitation. All the honorees were vetted by a panel of expert judges in their respective fields.
“The Forbes 30 Under 30 list has emerged as the way that the world discovers the next generation of entrepreneurs and game-changers,” stated Randall Lane, editor of Forbes Magazine and creator of the Forbes ‘Under 30’ franchise in a news release. “This is the ultimate club: the people that will reinvent every field over the next century."
This summit brought together more than 7,000 young entrepreneurs, visionaries and social innovators for an immersive experience featuring more than 200 world-class speakers including investors, celebrities, musicians, sports stars, cultural icons, political and business leaders.
“It was a great opportunity to go out there and meet a whole different network of people – billionaires, celebrities, politicians and artists – learn from them and see what they’re doing to change the world for the better,” John-Muyiwa said. “For me, it’s really about bringing that knowledge and opportunity back to Houston, back to my community.”
It’s not surprising John-Muyiwa was chosen. Not only is he a senior majoring in petroleum engineering at the Cullen College who is maintaining an impressive 3.9 GPA – he’s also earned a certificate in corporate entrepreneurship from the Wolff Center of Entrepreneurship at the University and is working on getting his business, a social enterprise, called “Blademy,”off the ground. The mission of Blademy is to provide an e-learning platform to help Black millennials develop new skills.
Originally from Nigeria, John-Muyiwa grew up in southwest Houston. “I didn’t really have the best opportunities growing up and the opportunities I did have, I kind of figured things out by luck,” he said.
He took the SAT without really understanding what the college entrance exam was all about. His high school counselor advised him to apply to a two-year college.
Fortunately, he scored high enough to catch the interest of a number of colleges and ended up getting a full-scholarship to UH. He participated, and later served as workshop facilitator and lead mentor, in the UH Scholar Enrichment Program. He is also involved in the Cullen College’s Program for Mastery in Engineering Studies (PROMES), which is dedicated to increasing engineering student’s success in their studies, personal lives and careers. John-Muyiwa’s hard work and drive has led him to win numerous awards and scholarships during his academic career.
His resume is already full of great experiences, such as participating in the BP STEP Leadership Development Track, serving as a Google Developer Scholar, interning as a production engineering intern at Exxon Mobil, an energy trading analytics intern and a structured products intern at BP and a drilling and production trainee at Shell among others.
John-Muyiwa acknowledged that his life could easily have had a very different trajectory and said he didn’t want others to miss out on success due to a lack of knowledge and resources.
“It’s really important for me to take the knowledge I have gained and curate knowledge from other people who have found success in different places and bring it all back to help younger people in my community,” he said.
Being an engineer, he looks at data, analyzes situations and likes to fix problems. He shared some statistics: The African-American spending power in the U.S. is about $1. 2 trillion annually, the median wealth of the African-American family today is $11,000, by 2053 the median wealth of African-American families in this country are projected to be zero.
John-Muyiwa also understands finances and economics. Besides his entrepreneurship certificate, he also attended the Summer Venture in Management Program at Harvard Business School. He worked as a business development intern at Course Hero and as a securities analyst intern at the prestigious investment banking entity Goldman Sachs.
“The wealth gap is actually widening. This is bad,” John-Muyiwa said. “For me it’s really coming in and solving a social problem that exists and needs to be addressed.”
His goal is to one day earn a master’s in business administration from Harvard. But for right now, he’s focused on graduating in May 2019. He has a full-time offer to join the trader development program at BP at that point. However, John-Muyiwa is also trying to raise venture capital for Blademy.
“If that comes through, I’m willing to take the risk to focus on the company and build something special,” he said. “I’m 22, if I don’t take the risk now when am I going to take it?”