Meet Miracle Olatunji, Student, Author, & Social Impact Entrepreneur
Discover more Boston Speaks Up at Boston Business Journal’s BostInno:www.americaninno.com/boston/boston-speaks-up/
Miracle Olatunji is the youngest person to appear on Boston Speaks Up, only 19 years old at the time of recording. Olatunji embodies the aspiration of Boston to nurture a more diverse, mission-driven class of social impact entrepreneurs. Currently a student at Northeastern University, Olatunji works as the Director of Innovation of the student organization Thrive, whose mission is to empower students through financial literacy programs and support student-led entrepreneurial projects and ventures. While in high school, Olatunji founded OpportuniMe, an award-winning education organization which democratized access to summer learning opportunities for high school youth, enabling them to develop lifelong leadership skills and build their network. Along with her main ventures into innovation, Olatunji has been honored as a Young Global Leadership Scholar, Youth Entrepreneur Of The Year, and a ‘Woman To Watch’ — among many more impressive accolades. And if that wasn’t enough, she is the author of Purpose: How To Live and Lead With Impact.
Where did you grow up? When my family and I first moved to the states, we lived in New York for a few years and then we moved to Delaware where I’ve lived the past 10+ years of my life. So I’d say I grew up in DE! I moved to Boston last August to start college at Northeastern University. This past summer, I studied abroad in Denmark for 6 weeks. This summer, I’m living in New York for 10 weeks to do a finance internship at BAML.
How would you sum up your childhood? It was a lot of fun! I have a big family with four siblings so I was never bored. I’m grateful that when I was young, I was encouraged to be creative, ask questions, and be friendly because you might just make someone’s day! One more thing: I also went to three very different middle schools (private, homeschool, public) which was an interesting experience. This gave me a unique view of the education system in the US.
What most inspired your career in entrepreneurship? In high school, I participated in a program called the Diamond Challenge. It’s a global entrepreneurship competition for high school students. Before the program, I didn’t know much about business and entrepreneurship. I fell in love after seeing how you could make a difference as an entrepreneur. I was so inspired by many young entrepreneurs I had met, like Justin Lafazan (co-founder of Next Gen Summit) and Haile Thomas (founder of HAPPY), who were working on ventures that made a significant impact on the lives of other people and in the world. I wanted to do that too!
How difficult is it to manage time between your education, community projects and entrepreneurial pursuits? First semester it was difficult, when I was just starting college. I was trying to balance adjusting to a new city, making new friends, taking a full class schedule, and entrepreneurial pursuits. Now I’ve learned how to manage my time better. I think the key thing is prioritization and not being afraid to ask for help.
What do you love most about Boston? The people I’ve met. Kind, ambitious, smart, and funny. Also, it’s such an exciting place to live. There’s always something going on — whether social events, conferences, concerts, and more
Who’s been the most inspiring figure in your life? My mom. She believed in me waaaay before I believed in myself growing up. She’s confident, easily the most loving person I know, and an incredible businesswoman. I’m also inspired by:
-Melinda Gates, I recently did a project with her about gender equality & just the other day she pledged $1B to advance gender equality!!!
-Sallie Krawcheck, founder of Ellevest
-Robert Smith, entrepreneur, philanthropist & paid off class of 2019 loans
-Tiffany Pham, founder of Mogul
Why the focus on financial ventures for Thrive? To help empower students to succeed financially. Money isn’t everything but money plays a key part of impacting our quality of life. It has the power to help make people’s lives better. Unfortunately, not everyone has access to a personal finance education and Thrive is making it accessible and easy to understand with little finance jargon.
Are there any plans to start programs similar to OpportuniMe in other schools? Right now, OpportuniMe is involved in a national campaign with America’s Promise Alliance called the YES (Young. Employed. Successful) Project. The goal is to partner with other companies like LinkedIn and orgs like the Gap Foundation to help young people succeed professionally. We kicked off the campaign in March in San Diego, CA during the ASU Global Silicon Valley Summit.
As you can probably tell, I’m really passionate about connecting people with opportunities and resources to help them become their best self — — both personally and professionally!! I’m also the VP of Access & Opportunity for my university’s Women in Finance initiative. I manage a database of opportunities (summer internships, co-ops, scholarships, conferences, etc.) for young women interested in finance.
Why is it important for young people to develop these skills? It helps you gain confidence which is a really important skill to develop as you pursue your personal & professional goals
What are your plans after you graduate from Northeastern?
-finance & business career
-entrepreneurship and book/speaking
-starting the Miracle Global Fund
What is one new Boston-based project you’ve discovered that gets you excited?
It’s so hard to name just one :)
-She+ Geeks Out
-Boston.gov’s EXTRAOrdinary Women
-Connect VITA — an organization that helps working families maximize their tax return. I’m working on getting an IRS tax certification so I can start volunteering with them in January
What about Boston would you most like to see change? I’d like to see more diversity in the business & entrepreneurship community. More women and POC representation. I had the opportunity to interview a senior leader of a bank in Boston during the Forefront Summit at John Hancock last year. We had a discussion about attracting and retaining diverse talent and fostering a culture of not just ‘diversity’ but also of ‘inclusion & belonging’, making people feel like they are welcome and feel supported. An event recap is here in this article: https://www.forefrontcultures.com/post/when-it-comes-to-diversity-seeing-is-believing
Follow Miracle Olatunji on Twitter — @mirolatunji.