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Student Spotlight

Educational Roots to Business Pursuits

After growing up all over the world and working in several different career fields, MBA student Ben Nzojibwami has found his place at the BYU Marriott School of Business as the MBA class president. Nzojibwami’s unique background has helped him center his education on relationships and service.

Born in the African nation of Burundi, Nzojibwami was forced to leave his native country and move to Belgium as a young child. After three years in Belgium, Nzojibwami’s family made a permanent move to Canada. Nzojibwami’s country of residence changed once again when he moved to Utah with his wife and children to start the BYU Marriott MBA program.

For Nzojibwami, education has always been emphasized. “My father grew up in rural Burundi in really poor circumstances. He credits his education for enabling him to overcome his circumstances and to create a life for himself and his family,” Nzojibwami explains. “He always taught us the importance of getting an education.”

Nzojibwami at a conference for the MBA program presenting in front of a crowd.
Nzojibwami started the MBA program in the fall of 2022 and was elected the 2024 class president.
Photo courtesy of Ben Nzojibwami.

Nzojibwami earned a bachelor’s degree in exercise science from the University of Calgary and planned to go into the medical field. However, he changed his plans and turned to his love for teaching and learning, earning another bachelor’s degree in education from the University of Alberta. “Choosing to study education was just a natural flow into what was important and had meaning in my life,” Nzojibwami says.

After finishing his degrees, Nzojibwami utilized his fluency in French to teach fifth and sixth graders at a French immersion elementary school. But after two years, Nzojibwami began to wonder if he wanted to spend the rest of his life as a teacher.

Nzojibwami’s brother suggested options outside of teaching, including a career in business. Nzojibwami hesitated. “To me, business was accounting and finance, and that was not what I was interested in,” Nzojibwami explains. “But my brother told me there’s a lot more to business than just finance. So I took an instructional designer role at a startup. I applied my education and teaching background to a business setting to see if the business world was where I wanted to be.”

He dove into his new position at the startup, where he created training materials about how to help people improve their mental health. “I discovered that business is definitely where I want to be. And so I applied to get an MBA,” Nzojibwami says.

BYU Marriott was the place Nzojibwami wanted to be, despite having to leave his home and move to a new country. “It definitely was a big move,” Nzojibwami says, explaining that his wife had never lived outside of Canada. “It was a big thing for me to ask of her, but we both felt like it was the right choice to make.”

Nzojibwami's family is pictured with his wife and three children surrounded by fall leaves.
Nzojibwami and his family moved from Canada to start the BYU Marriott MBA program.
Photo courtesy of Ben Nzojibwami.

Since starting the MBA program in the fall of 2022, Nzojibwami continues to see how business stretches beyond numbers and spreadsheets. “Every class has taught me something different that I feel is very valuable to the business person I am becoming,” he shares.

Nzojibwami has also realized that successful leaders prioritize and nurture relationships. “Being MBA class president is all about building and maintaining culture among the students,” Nzojibwami says.

Connections with professors have also been key to Nzojibwami’s experience at BYU Marriott. “The professors and the teaching are top notch. The professors are willing to make time for you and just talk about life and plans,” Nzojibwami explains. “They are very invested in students’ learning and making sure that you learn as best you can.”

Looking to the future, Nzojibwami wants to take what he has learned as an MBA student and work in human resources or leadership training. “I only have good things to say about the BYU MBA program,” Nzojibwami says. “Everyone is hoping for your success. I have loved my time here.”

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Written by Kacee Call

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