From Teen College Student to M.B.A. Candidate: the Evolution of Princewill Uviovo
Starting college at 17 might seem like a huge challenge, but for Princewill Uviovo, it was an opportunity to prove his resilience. In May, he will complete a five-year program and graduate with a Bachelor of Science degree in Economics and an M.B.A. with a concentration in Real Estate from The Peter J. Tobin College of Business.
Coming from Nigeria, college wasn’t the only challenge Princewill faced. He was also challenged with learning Black history and the true experience of being Black in America. Through it all—both on and off campus—he was determined to find his path.
Princewill is a man of many talents, from drawing to photography; he plans to attend law school and have a career as an attorney. He is a true class act and is on his way to being an #SJUSuccess! Take some time to read his story and visit his website geminiexposure.com.
Why did you choose St. John’s?
“I knew I wanted to be in the New York area, and my dad liked the idea of me going to a Catholic school being that my family is Catholic. I was also doing some research into business schools and St. John’s popped up. Their business school is very good and has great academic rigor. So, it seemed to check all of the boxes of things I really wanted. On top of that, they gave me a great scholarship. St. John’s was the best fit for me!
When it comes to the five-year program, it was apparent to me that there is an oversaturation now of graduates with bachelor’s degrees. Employers are starting to change their minimum job requirements to master’s degrees. A master’s degree is like the present bachelor’s degree, so you need both, and with the five-year program at St. John’s, I just thought it would be in my best interest. I’m glad I made the decision because it is a factor in the positions for which I am applying.”
What is next for you?
“I see myself staying in New York and getting established for a few years after school. I have established connections during my time at St. John’s so it would be strategically smarter to stay and settle here first. However, I do see myself in California in the next five years or so; I’m over the cold weather.
I’ve been applying for consulting-based or expert industry jobs. Expert industry jobs are different firms that connect businesses or business problems to experts within those industries to find solutions. They act as a third-party liaison, fostering relationships between both parties. I would also like to work as a management, risk, or financial consultant. My economics degree is really versatile, and I can do anything within consulting. My bigger plan is to go to law school within the next five years.”
What is your dream job?
“My dream job and the stuff that makes me happy is probably more centered around art. I was always an artsy kid growing up, so I draw and am currently a photographer. I recently launched my website, geminiexposure.com. So, my dream job would probably be creative director for Vogue or one of the other fashion houses, Ivy Park, or Nike.
I work on projects focused on St. John’s students, and last semester I participated in the Channeling Series, where I photographed Black men in different spaces around campus. I love collaborating with the St. John’s community, it adds to the school spirit and showcases the diversity we have here on campus.
Photography and my website are something I do in my free time; they are my passion projects, my babies. I’m trying to make a space where I can just express myself with art and photography.”
What other involvement have you had on or off campus?
“I am a Graduate Assistant in the office of Student Operations. Since my first year, I have been involved with Voices of Victory, the gospel choir on campus.
I have done theater work, and had a lead role as the Tinman in The Wiz. The musical was a collaboration between the Department of Performing Arts and Haraya. It turned out to be a huge success. It still blows my mind! It was right before the pandemic; our last show was in February of 2020. I am still very grateful for that experience. The energy from the audience was crazy!
I worked at the University Writing Center my first year; I was able to make some good connections there. I also worked in the library. I have also done photography workshops with Red House (the fashion club on campus) and the African Students Association. I was the photographer for their fashion shows back in 2017–18.”
What has been your favorite involvement on campus?
“Voices of Victory! It has been such a huge experience, especially in terms of growth. Coming into St. John’s, I would say I was just an average singer. But Voices has developed my skills to things I didn’t even think were possible. Nigel W. Gretton, our music director, encourages you to do different things and has expanded my boundaries. I was able to achieve and learn so much, while also building connections. We used to do a lot of things off campus, and I was able to meet many amazing people.
Building that talent and skill keeps your inner child alive. I feel like I should dedicate part of my existence moving forward in all aspects of my life to keeping that inner child dream alive. It’s really important to not lose yourself to work and life.”
What is the biggest lesson you have learned?
“Failure is for everyone! You’re never too big to fail. You’re not too smart to fail. You’ve never made enough in life not to fail. I feel like embracing failure is really the key. I used to be scared to fail, but you need that. Failure is part of the growth process. It motivates you and forces you to get it together. Failure is for everyone, it doesn’t discriminate.
Also, being humble is important too, and a really great trait to have. Many of the people I look up to—no matter how successful—manage to stay humble. Beyoncé is one of them, and she is a class act. You can see it in the way she carries herself. She is just the queen.”
What has been your overall St. John’s experience?
“Two words come to mind: aesthetic and growth. The person who walked into St. John’s at 17, I don’t even know who that is anymore. I have had so many good and profound experiences, in the sense that I got to meet so many different people.
Also, being African and the Black experience for me is different. When I moved to the US, I learned so much about Black people and about African American culture and history. As Black people, I feel like we should take pride in our different cultures and backgrounds.
We are an entire diaspora. Our experiences are never going to be the same. For example, a person from Nigeria isn’t going to be the same as a Black person from the US, or a Black person from the United Kingdom. Even though we are so different, there is still unity in that diversity.
Since moving here, I have learned much Black history; it is humbling to see the cultural similarities we share, from the way we talk to the way we dress. Being at St. John’s has offered me experiences with many people from diverse backgrounds. I’ve been able to see how others live and think. I have matured a lot.”