Dr. Vincent “Vini” Onyemah, Professor of Sales and Marketing at Babson College and Faculty Director of NEIA NEXT’s Entrepreneurial Mindset Summer Program, wants to help students tell their stories.
Vini has his own remarkable story. A story of resilience and compassion. He has always felt most comfortable in school, but his childhood was far from comfortable. He described a time during the Nigerian Civil War when he did not even have shoes for his feet, everything was being destroyed around him, and he and his family were in hiding. He believes in finding the positives, even in the saddest of experiences. When he started his academic journey, he wanted to move on and move ahead. With an unwavering passion for learning, he pursued his first degree in Nigeria before venturing to Barcelona, Spain, where he studied philosophy and theology and completed his MBA. Seeking further knowledge, Vini then obtained his Ph.D. in Management from INSEAD Fontainebleau in France.
Vini discovered NEIA back in its first year of existence when he received a call from one of his colleagues, Dr. Heidi Neck, Professor of Entrepreneurial Studies, about this “American school that was unlike anything I’d ever seen before.” Neck said that the school was looking to infuse an entrepreneurial mindset into its curriculum. Vini, curious, decided to see it for himself. From the moment he walked in the front doors, he was amazed by what he found.
“I came here and I just got it. I said, ‘Wow. Wow. This is incredible.’”
The seamless collaboration and camaraderie among the staff left a lasting impression on him, reaffirming his belief that NEIA was not just any school, but a place where creativity and innovation thrived. “I believe in what you are doing here,” Vini said. “If I had to go back to school, I would want to go to NEIA.” Vini witnessed firsthand how the institution’s dynamic approach to education engages students, fostering an environment where diverse backgrounds and talents thrive. The students’ boundless enthusiasm and eagerness to learn created a powerful synergy between the educators and the learners.
“Vini embodies NEIA’s DNA,” Lily Fu, Head of Collaborations said. “He was able to pick up what NEIA is doing for the future of education, and aligned immediately with us. Through the NEIA NEXT program, he helped to expand NEIA’s mission of developing entrepreneurial-minded kids through the Babson method of Entrepreneurial Thought & Action (ET&A), and equipping them with tools that enable them to bring their ideas to life.”
NEIA NEXT’s Entrepreneurial Mindset Summer Program in partnership with Babson College is a one-of-a-kind, pre-college program designed to help ambitious high school students explore what it means to be entrepreneurial and prepare for what is next. Vini emphasized the significance of NEIA NEXT being Babson’s first in-person K-12 program, and the fact that it is led by award-winning faculty. Not adjunct professors, not teaching assistants, but professors who have each won at least one teaching award for being the best in their field. This immersive experience helps students realize their potential, think bigger, and prepare compelling narratives for their college applications.
By exposing students to storytelling, improvisation, and portfolio building, the program equips them with invaluable skills for college life and beyond. For Babson College, this partnership represents a unique opportunity to work with a school that is really thinking outside the box. Combining the entrepreneurial culture of Babson with NEIA’s innovative approach creates a platform for extraordinary outcomes, propelling the development of future leaders and changemakers.
“Great minds coming together,” Vini said. “The outcome can only be extraordinary.”