More Than a Just Bite Out of the Big Apple: How the BBIC New York Trip Made Wall Street Within Reach for Jonathan Banza
Jonathan Banza, ’24 ΦΔΘ, is a self-described global citizen who easily articulates why the Blue Blazers Investment Committee’s biannual trip to New York is so impactful for Westminster students.
Prior to the trip, Banza says he and some of the Blue Blazers students assumed that working on Wall Street would be impossible, either from stereotypes of New Yorkers, small-town shyness, or a lack of understanding about the strengths of a college in the middle of a quiet Missouri town.
It turns out that New Yorkers are friendlier than many have been led to believe, small towns raise honest, hard-working people which New Yorkers are happy to hire, and a college in the middle of a quiet Missouri town educates students to work on Wall Street just as well as — if not better than — institutions in large cities.
Banza reflects, “After the trip, I feel like I’m more confident and able to aspire to achieve greatness, in terms of applying for one of the companies based out of New York.”
Born in Lubumbashi, Democratic Republic of Congo, and forced to leave his country with his nuclear family as refugees, Banza was raised from the age of 6 in Durban, South Africa. Despite many hardships, he eventually received a prestigious education at the two-year African Leadership Academy in Johannesburg.
During that time, Banza attended the 2018 Aspen Ideas Festival in Aspen, Colorado, as a Bezos Scholar, which helped him further develop a non-profit organization he co-founded in 2017: the Phambili Initiative.
The organization connects South African high school students with university-level mentors to help the students learn about the college application process, financial aid, and adjusting to college life.
Banza keeps tabs on the organization while attending Westminster and majoring in International Business and Global & Transnational Studies and minoring in Economics. He is a Churchill Singer, a residential advisor, a member of the Phi Delta Theta fraternity, an Oath and Values board member, and a freshman mentor.
He also proudly serves as CEO of the Blue Blazers Investment Committee (BBIC).
Banza eagerly details his life experience not to brag but to illustrate that even with all he has accomplished, he is just like everyone else at Westminster — which includes originally feeling a little intimidated by Wall Street.
That all changed after traveling to New York with the BBIC in February 2023.
“I really want to thank Brock Ayers for the tremendous role he plays in making this trip a possibility,” Banza emphasizes.
Today, he is confident that a career on Wall Street could be in his future. But first Banza hopes to secure an internship there, and for now, he is happy to reminisce about the trip with fellow Blue Blazers members.
“Getting the chance to just be in Manhattan and have some kind of connection to the many institutions on Wall Street was really amazing,” Banza says. “And being on the actual floor at the New York Stock Exchange was an unbelievable part of the trip for me. Not everyone gets to do that, because you must be invited, and to our surprise, the floor traders were friendly and made time to talk with us. It was a wonderful experience.”
To donate to the BBIC New York Trip, you may give online by indicating “BBIC New York Trip” in the drop-down menu of the online designation box, after selecting “Other,” or you may give by check, which should be mailed to the Westminster College Business Office, 501 Westminster Ave., Fulton, Missouri 65251.