by MaryAlice Bitts-Jackson
Growing up in Ghana, Joojo Ocran ’17 had a close-up view of what it means to be an entrepreneur, since both of his parents had developed their own businesses. Today, he’s preparing to carve his own innovative career path, as he considers a future that combines his interest in entrepreneurism with his passion for sustainability and relationship-building. Here, he talks about his life philosophy, his internships, his experiences as a student-researcher, and why Nobel Laureate and social entrepreneur Muhammad Yunus is his ideal dinner companion.
Clubs and organizations:
Resident Advisor, Global Gastronomy Group (president), Student Senate (enrollment and student life committee sophomore rep), Liberty Cap (tour guide), International Diversity Initiative (founder), club soccer, MANdatory Leadership Program and Eco-Reps.
Shuman Prize, Alpha Lambda Delta honor society, John Dickinson Scholarship and Dean’s List.
The Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug (can’t wait to see the next one).
I absolutely love country music!
On choosing Dickinson:
It was a decision of the heart. Ruth Lopez in Dickinson’s admissions office sent me a personal letter about all the passions I had outlined in my personal essay (music, food, entrepreneurship, sustainability and soccer), and how those interests were expressed in different forms here at Dickinson. I accepted my letter of admission the very next day.
Favorite place on campus:
Althouse G07 or the Curtilage Birdhouse.
On choosing a major:
Both of my parents are entrepreneurs, so I’ve grown up admiring the business world and entrepreneurism. My French minor comes from the fact that Ghana has francophone neighboring countries, and for that reason, I was encouraged to study French in high school. I didn’t particularly enjoy studying the language at that level, but taking French at Dickinson under [Assistant] Professor [of French Ian “Andy”] MacDonald and [Associate] Professor [of French Dominique] Laurent has really given me a love and appreciation for the language.
[Associate] Professor [of International Business & Management] Helen Takacs. Ever since I took my intro to business class with her, she’s taken me under her wing. She’s now my advisor, and she’s an amazing and supportive mentor.
Favorite learning experience:
I loved the Eco-Entrepreneurship Path Mosaic. [It offered] the perfect combination of entrepreneurship and sustainability, two issues I’m passionate about, and it was incredible, as a first-year, to participate in an intense research project with six [upper-level] students. That experience led me to redefine my notion of sustainability. It also definitely didn’t hurt that we took our research trip to Arizona in the dead of winter!
Favorite Dining Hall food:
Grilled cheese and cream of tomato soup. Or my incredible enchiladas, which I make with ingredients from the salad bar and the sandwich line.
Most important thing I’ve learned so far:
Be open-minded and show love to all.
If I could have dinner with anyone, living or dead, it would be …
Muhammad Yunus, because he’s the perfect example of doing well by doing good.
As a kid, I wanted to be …
A space footballer, when I was really young. As I grew older, entrepreneurship began to occupy my thoughts.
It’s a toss-up between being named the Shuman Prize winner [during the 2014 Convocation ceremony] and working as a resident assistant (RA). I learned about the Shuman Prize through my friend and peer mentor, Jahmel Martin ’16, and quickly made it my goal. [That goal] provided much of my drive for achievement during my first year at Dickinson. I've wanted to be an RA since my first weeks at Dickinson. As a first-year international student, I came to campus [a few weeks before most members of] the class of 2017 arrived for Orientation, and so at first I had only my RA to turn to for friendship and support. I became determined to be that source of inspiration for someone else.
About my internships:
I have had internships at First Capital Plus Bank, GIA Company and, most recently, at Axis Pension Trust. From these experiences, I learned that when you put your heart into your work, it shows.
My father, Albert Ocran, is an incredible role model, and he always takes time out for our family. The most important thing I learned from him is to think more with my head than with my heart (which is slightly contrary my mum’s nature; that is why they work perfectly together as a couple).
My plan is to find my niche in the business world, preferably in a place where sustainability, entertainment, customer relations, business and food interact.
Published January 6, 2015