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Jean-Blaise's NPR Interview
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As I advance, I hope to be an example to young Africans because I strongly believe we can only achieve sustainable development through education and capacity-building.
- Jean-Blaise Ognong
Jean-Blaise Ognong is familiar with adversity on every scale. The Cameroon native contracted polio as a toddler and was, as he describes, one of the “lucky few” to survive with a permanent leg paralysis. Throughout his childhood in the small village of Bokito, Cameroon, Jean-Blaise became acutely aware of the extreme poverty in other parts of Africa. Despite his own family’s meager resources and his disability, he began at an early age to contemplate and begin working toward his own potential for making an impact on the alleviation of poverty in Africa.
Jean-Blaise began his undergraduate education at Northern Virginia Community College, where his excellent grades earned him membership in Phi Theta Kappa. As a Jack Kent Cooke Undergraduate Transfer Scholar, Jean-Blaise is now pursuing a B.A. in economics at Georgetown University. Fluent in French, English, German, and two native languages, he has served as a language tutor for international organizations in Cameroon and in the US. Jean-Blaise also founded a Web-based nonprofit called Africans Active for Empowerment and Development, which works to fight poverty in Africa by raising awareness about community efforts undertaken by Africans themselves.
Jean-Blaise has interned and volunteered with a number of nonprofit organizations, including the DC Literacy Education, Advocacy, and Resource Network (DC LEARNs), the Maya Angelou Public Charter School, The One Campaign to Make Poverty History launched by DATA (Debt, AIDS, Trade, Africa) and acclaimed African news Website AllAfrica.com. Jean-Blaise also worked as a writing tutor, coached soccer, and has engaged in activism on a number of issues.
"I consider myself a concerned African, and my vision is to become a champion of self-empowerment and development in Africa,” says Jean-Blaise. “As I advance, I hope to be an example to young Africans because I strongly believe we can only achieve sustainable development through education and capacity-building."