One of TFT’s defining traits is its ability to reach out into the surrounding community to improve the lives of others. When TFTNYC started to collaborate with My Brother’s Keeper, an organization that provides support and mentorship to young men of color, neither of the parties knew how beneficial their partnership would be. After a successful day of mentorship and golf on June 28th created by Morgan Stanley employee John Onwualu, they can be sure that this bond will continue for years to come.
John Onwualu is an Associate in Leveraged Finance at Morgan Stanley, and an active member of TFT. “I joined TFT earlier this year, as part of the Young Benefactors program, to begin paying-it-forward for all the mentorship and opportunity I have been afforded as a young man of color, through education and sports, more recently golf,” Onwualu said. With the help of Executive Director Ed Brockner and Director of New York Player Development Anthony Rodriguez, they created a new opportunity for young men of color by inviting My Brother’s Keeper participants to spend the day at Morgan Stanley and Meadow Brook Golf Club, where Mr. Onwualu is a member.
“When I was in high school, I did not know much about what job opportunities existed out there, let alone Wall Street. All I knew was that I was interested in business, and with great mentorship and a strong education I was able to find my way. It can be hard to envision yourself, as a young man of color, in a role where most people do not look like you. This event was intended to aid that vision; to show these guys that men, like them, are finding success in business, and they can too, if they stay the course. We all want these guys to know they have a whole community rooting for them,” Onwualu said. At Morgan Stanley, the six participants spoke to individuals in senior positions, which exposed them to the business world and what it takes to be successful in it. They also enjoyed the company of many college students who were interns at Morgan Stanley for the summer. David Armah, a 17 year old My Brother’s Keeper participant, enjoyed talking with his college aged peers about how he can maximize his own opportunities. “The senior leaders gave me a lot of insight about business, which I would like to study as a profession. Also, being the same skin tone as the senior leaders and interns helped me understand the real world of business and the advantages and disadvantages of going into the profession,” said Armah.
The opportunities for mentorship and connections continued when they arrived at Meadow Brook Club, where the participants, Mr. Onwualu and Morgan Stanley employees played together. “After a few hours in the office, it was important to get out and play, really tying together the missions of TFT and My Brother’s Keeper. The small teams were the perfect opportunity for mentors and mentees to connect, and for mentees to feel more comfortable asking questions,” explained John Onwualu. He and David were paired up together during the round. “John was a great mentor for me; he talked to me about the business life, and he is Nigerian and I am Ghanaian, so we talked about being from different countries as well. He also helped me with my golf swing,” David said. Onwualu is glad to have helped David and the other participants. “I had a blast getting to know these guys and taking on a mentorship role. The golf course is such a good place to forge a connection with someone, and provides a lot of opportunity for positivity.” After playing golf and eating lunch at Meadow Brook, the participants went home, but the connections they made with the interns and Morgan Stanley employees will continue to benefit them.
“During the trip, I learned a lot about job opportunities and now I might get a job from the connections I made,” David explained. He also is taking the advice from John and the other people he met to pursue his goals. “After this event, I’m starting to do everything I say I want to do. I have wanted to work as an intern, and now I am researching more heavily about internships.” By introducing participants to mentors like themselves, this event shows young people that they should not limit themselves or their goals. “This was the first annual event, and we kept it at eight individuals to make sure that the day ran successfully, but next year we hope to expand it and really share the experience with more members of the TFT community,” Onwualu said. The commitment of TFT, Morgan Stanley, and My Brother’s Keeper created this meaningful event, and they will continue to build on the importance of mentorship for young people of color to inspire them to aim higher, for both their golf and their dreams.
By Remi Shendell