2017 Best & Brightest: Josuel Plasencia, Babson College

Josuel Plasencia

Babson College

“I am son, friend, human. Love travel, the Mets, Latin dancing. My purpose is to do my part in building a more equitable world.”

Fun fact about yourself: While at Babson, I played Sonny Latierri in Grease the Musical and Maude the Bartender in Bye Bye Birdie.

Hometown: New York City, New York

High School: Academy of Finance and Enterprise

Major: Business Administration

Favorite Business Courses: Babson’s hands-on courses have always been quite rewarding. This includes a course called Management Consulting Field Experience (MCFE), where I got to consult for the Boston Red Sox, and another called Spain/Portugal Start-Up Strategy, where I got to consult for iFarmacias (an Iberian medical app).

I am particularly excited for my next course, Affordable Design and Entrepreneurship, during which I’ll be working to combine the best of business and engineering at our neighboring institution, Olin College, in order to finding creative solutions to social challenges. In the case I’ll be working on, we are to build an educational center within a trailer park in Mississippi. Every one of these experiences builds upon the foundation courses offered to undergraduates at Babson College.

Extracurricular Activities, Community Work and Leadership Roles during College: At Babson, I was a Director of Speakers at the Babson Latin American Club, Student Senator at the Babson Student Government Association, a MoneyThink Mentor, a member of the ALPFA Business Club, a Social Media Ambassador for the college, a member of the Babson Players, and most notably the Co-Chair of the 11th National Dominican Students Conference (NDSC). The NDSC is a gathering of over 500 college students and over 30 speakers and artistic performers from around the country that come together to connect on important issues around entrepreneurship, diversity, and inclusion. The conference itself has a budget of $38,000 (which we fund-raised) and involves a planning process of about a year-and-a-half, an organizing board of 10 students (in this case from the student club HOLA) and many more stakeholders.

Where have you interned during your college career? Consulting Summer Analyst at Accenture Summer 2016, Investment Management Summer Analyst at Goldman Sachs Summer 2015, United Nations Desk Intern at KPMG Summer 2014 and Fall 2013, Launch Intern at EY Summer 2013, Summer Intern at BNY Mellon Summer 2012. All were in NYC for all except for KPMG 2in 014.

Describe your dream Job: I have my dream job now as an entrepreneur, running and growing my own social venture, Project 99 (www.project99.co). As a first generations student, I have realized the need to build a more equitable world, where no matter who you are, you have the chance at following your dreams. This is why I co-founded Project 99 and we have travelled to the Dominican Republic, Chile and Mexico with our work.

Who is your favorite professor? My two favorite professors are Kerry Rourke and Kevin Bruvneel. They bring such authenticity and commitment to social change that is always inspiring.  

What did you enjoy most about majoring in a business-related field? The hands-on experience has been most helpful and extremely applicable.

What is the biggest lesson you gained from studying business? No matter how many technical skills you accumulate, soft skills are always going to be needed.

Where would you like to work after graduation? After Babson, I will be running Project 99 full-time.

What are your long-term professional goals? My long-term professional’s goals are to have a career committed to my purpose: to do my part in creating a society where no matter who you are, you have the ability to follow your dreams, no matter what they are. Right now, this means Project 99, but over time that may transition into other aspects such as public service.

What advice would you give to a student looking to major in a business-related field? Don’t be afraid to take risks and always follow your passion. The two are often connected and realizing that is powerful.

“I knew I wanted to major in business when…I took a few courses in business and tested the waters.”

“If I didn’t major in business, I would be…studying liberal arts, but what’s great about Babson is that at least 50 percent of our credits earned actually come from liberal arts courses.”

“Before I entered business school, I wish I had known…how cold it gets in Boston! If you come up north, make sure to bring appropriate clothes.”

What was the happiest moment of your life? On November 10, 2012, I received the Junior Achievement Student of the Year Award and was able to accept and give a speech in front of 500 people, but most importantly in front of my family and closest mentors and teachers. This day changed my life forever as it marked a new professional attitude coupled with many new opportunities presented to me by Junior Achievement (which is the root of all the work I do today).

Which academic, extracurricular or personal achievement are you most proud of? I am most proud of becoming a student at Babson College. It was a major moment in my life. I am now fighting for my next big breakthrough.

What animal would you choose to represent your professional brand? A bird as I like to travel a lot and meet a lot of people.

Who would you most want to thank for your success? My mother, as she is the reason for everything in my life. I love her.

What would you like your business school peers to say about you after you graduate from this program? That everything I did, I did with passion.

Favorite book: The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao – Junot Diaz.

Favorite movie: Anything from Woody Allen

Favorite musical performer: Chris Cornell

Favorite vacation spot: Dominican Republic!

What are your hobbies? Baseball, Latin dancing, travelling, and going to the movies.

What made Josuel such an invaluable addition to the Class of 2017?

“At Babson College, we adhere to the United Nations’ Principles of Responsible Management Education. One of the ways this manifests itself is in our curriculum, a pillar of which is SEERS: Social, Environmental, and Economic Responsibility and Sustainability. Josuel has taken the mandate of this curricular pillar very seriously in his undergraduate education.

You can see his commitment to SEERS in his selection of courses and the work he has done in each. In Rhetoric II, Josuel spent one semester researching and analyzing current information about minority representation in the U.S. tech industry. After a semester of reading, interviewing tech entrepreneurs, compiling data and ruminating on its significance, he concluded that social welfare programs, so necessary in his own upbringing, should also exist in the U.S. to encourage tech education and entrepreneurship for low-income students.

Beyond this first-year undergraduate project, Josuel has selected coursework that supports Babson’s curricular mission and his own recent Fulbright research proposal:  he elected to overload one semester to take a course about gender; he devoted an entire semester to studying developing economies abroad in Brazil, China, and India; and he has approached his management classes with entrepreneurial zeal and a question in mind:  how can I use this to make the world a better place for all?

One initial “answer” to his question has come in his collaboration with fellow student Yulkendy Valdez ‘17 and others, as they work to make Project 99 flourish in the Dominican Republic.

Josuel has also recently developed interest in LGBTQ equality issues. This, and his work with the National Dominican Student Conference, prompted him to reach out to the U.S. Ambassador to the Dominican Republic, James (Wally) Brewster, who is openly gay and has brought his husband to live and work with him in the Dominican Republic — much to the chagrin of some in that country.  Josuel encouraged his fellow Babson students and faculty members to support Wally via the Spring 2016 social media campaign #ImWithWally.  Everything Josuel does, he does with energy, a social conscience, and a plan.

Most recently, Josuel was accepted as one of only three Senior Instructors at Babson — students who will teach courses in the Babson curriculum this spring. Since December, I have been working with the program to help the student instructors develop strong syllabi, course designs, and classroom activities, and Josuel—to no surprise—has been 100 percent committed and active in the process. His excitement to give back to students through his course, “Communicate with Intention,” is palpable.

Josuel is the embodiment of the American Dream, and as such, is an exemplar of our country’s values and strengths. As he gets ready to graduate, I am confident he will make an excellent representative of Babson College and am excited to see the many accomplishments of his work in the Dominican Republic in implementing social entrepreneurship in low-income communities.”

Kerry Rourke
Lecturer, Arts & Humanities
Babson College