If you asked Saint Mbakop A Boui 10 years ago if he would be Hostos’ Student Government Association President and eventually attend Harvard University, he might have replied, “c'est impossible” … or something pretty similar. That is because Mbakop was living in the French-speaking country of Cameroon on the Gulf of Guinea in Africa.
 
Mbakop’s story began when he won a green card lottery five years ago and decided to come to America. Speaking no English, he moved to The Bronx with family friends and enrolled in an English as a Second Language program. Determined to earn a college degree, he studied 8 a.m. to 9 p.m., five days a week. After he mastered the English language, he enrolled at Hostos Community College (CUNY), where he also discovered Hostos’ Student Government Association, and served as its president during his senior year.
 
Having earned is Associate Degree in Liberal Arts in June 2016, he is now enrolled at Harvard University and will begin studying business this fall.
 
What was your favorite thing about Hostos? What will you take away?
The spirit of the school and the family environment. While it is academic in nature, it is also incredibly supportive. Professors and staff are there to help you any with personal issues and obstacles you face.

The location for me was also so convenient. I was living at a few blocks away, so I wanted to go to a place that was at a walking distance from my house to be sure that no matter what happen, I will be able to commute to school.

What did you think when you learned you were accepted to Harvard?
I was excited. You really find out a lot about yourself through challenges and attending Harvard will really push me. What really attracted me, besides the prestige of the institution, was the dual degree program I am applying for. If all goes right, I can earn my bachelor’s degree in business and my MBA in 2019.

What got you interested in the Student Government Association (SGA) at Hostos?
Frist and foremost, I love people. I love to be around people and help them solve problem they might have. Secondly, the SGA was and opportunity for me to learn more about leadership and about working work with people more efficiently.

What are some of the things you are most proud of that the SGA has accomplished?
We have always worked on creating a good platform for communication between the student administration and staff on campus. Also, the SGA has helped build such great student leaders who go on to serve their communities.

What is your favorite subject?
Believe it or not, my favorite subject had always been biology. But for the past year, I have also grown to love business.
I also have a love for entrepreneurship, and I would love to work at an institution that combines these two passions.

What is your favorite food?
I am original from Cameroon, an African country with a very rich culinary diversity. Since I was a little my favorite food is one of our traditional dish call “Ndole”

Where do you consider home?
John Ed Pearce answer to this question saying: “Home is a place you grow up wanting to leave, and grow old wanting to get back to.” I agree with this definition, but really, I think home is the place where you have the sense of belonging, where you feel loved and appreciated for how you are and not what you can bring on the table.

What do you do outside of classwork and the SGA?
Outside of classes, I work full-time. I am also involved in nonprofits that assist fellow Cameroonians adjust to life in the United States. I am the Executive Secretary of an association named Grand Ouest and recently began working with CAMCOO, where I am part of the legal committee. Most of all I am an ambassador for the leadership academy of Hostos where we participate to a lot of leadership training and voluntary services.     

What is your favorite movie?
My favorite movie is the “The Pursuit of Happiness” with Will Smith. I love this movie because of a scene where Smith is playing basketball with his son when he tells him: “Don’t ever let someone tell you can’t do something, not even me. You have a dream. You have to protect it. People can't do somethin' themselves, they wanna tell you you can't do it. If you want something, go get it period.”

Where do you see yourself in 5 years? 10 years?
After I earn my MBA, I will definitely pursue my doctorate degree, also in business. At the same time, I am planning to open my own business. A couple of friends and I have already came together to create and work on a startup project.