Buconyori moved to the US from Burundi to attend Greenville College, where he
received his bachelor's degree in Business Administration and Political Science
in 2005.Bonheur says he knew in order
to further his education here; he would have to get a scholarship or apply for
student loans.“Right now I’m doing a
dual degree program.I’m doing an MBA at
Stanford University and a Master’s in Public Administration at Harvard.It’s a two degree program and it takes three
years so I will spend a year here at Stanford and then split my second year
half and half and then do my third year at Harvard,” he says.
“I’m still applying for the Harvard program, but as of right now I am at Stanford and I could only really apply to schools where I felt I had chances to at least get loans.When you are an international student here, it is very, very difficult for you to obtain loans.Extremely difficult and a lot of schools do not provide loans for international students and so I knew that for me to go to school I had to one, either get a scholarship or two, be able to get some sort of loan that would help me go to school and I knew that Stanford University and Harvard University are two schools that guarantee you enrollment whether you are international or not,” he says.
“They don’t really care if you can afford to go to school or not they will make sure that once you get admitted that it will provide you with the necessary funds and the program also are very focused on leadership, they produce many leaders and I was attracted by that and Stanford in particular has a smaller class, smaller room which is more personal which I enjoy coming from Burundi a small country I just think there is a lot over here I could learn and take back home over there and my process is when I applied I ended up getting a scholarship, the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation they have a website and when I applied they provided me with fifty-thousand dollars a year for a maximum of six years to go to school, but I am doing it three years so it is going to be about three hundred thousand dollars in addition to the loans and scholarship I got from my school they are also covering for that so that was also a dream come true for me.”
Bonheur is fully into his first year at the university. He says although it is academically challenging, learning from his professors is just a small portion of the Stanford experience.“I’m currently doing my second semester at Stanford.It’s been an amazing experience to be here with a lot of other amazing students.It is also a great school I would recommend people to look into it.You know people from different backgrounds all coming here there are people who advise the president, people who worked in consulting, banking, people who have taught English in Tanzania, non-profits, people from all over the world who are currently in the same institution,” he says.
“It’s amazing when you go into class and it is very class oriented you have a lot of class participation and every time I go into class I leave so intellectually stimulated.I feel like I am learning so much more from the students and my professors as well, but even a lot from the students by virtue of their unique experiences which is very enriching.”
Because of the financial help from The Jack Kent Cooke Foundation, Bonheur says he aspires to make a difference in the lives of others.The fact that a stranger, a stranger who does not know me, Jack Kent Cooke who died who happened to be the former owner of my favorite basketball team, The Los Angeles Lakers and that he would set up a fund to help students like me, who could not essentially afford to go to these schools by themselves and for him to setup a fund where he says it is okay if you cannot pay the money to go to school. I will help you go to school.I will provide you with the funds necessary to go to school.He doesn’t know who I am, but he did it and the foundation and the work that they are doing is amazing.I mean they are paying fifty thousand dollars a year for me and the fact that they would do that to me has taught me that ‘Wow’, sometimes when we think about helping we like to think about only our loved ones.We think about our families.We think about helping those we know and that has challenged me to help those you don’t know,” he says.
“So as I am striving in life in whatever I want to do the impact this has had on me is to help the individuals that I am not accustomed to, if there is a stranger out there in Ethiopia, in Burundi, in Nigeria, Ghana that I might not know, but would essentially benefit from my help then I will set up a foundation to help strangers I have never even met.”
Bonheur graduates from Stanford next year and then Harvard in 2011. His view on being in the United States is...”There is no other country like America.It’s the land that was built by immigrants.It’s the land that challenges everything and America has been able to sustain numerous things in the country.It’s had slavery and they got over that and now its president is an African American, the first lady is a descendent of a slave and these types of ideals that have been put into practice,” he says.
“It’s amazing to see how good America is.I’m very proud of the American public.I’m very proud of what America has done and its leadership in the world and by just virtue of living in the country, that energy that comes from the people here, the love of the people, the diversity of the people I would like to apply some of those developments and success stories into our country where we could also become more open to change.More open to sustainability.More open to people who are from different tribes.