In high school, a friend’s mother taught Nitiya Walker ’14 a strategy for filling out award applications. The advice helped Walker win a Women of Distinction award from the Girl Scouts and a Posse Foundation scholarship to Babson. Wanting to share this knowledge with others, Walker founded Seeds of Fortune, which helps minority women in New York City apply for college scholarships. Three girls attended the inaugural program, which Walker launched the summer before her senior year at Babson. Since then, she has added career and financial management skills to the nonprofit’s offerings and developed plans to extend the program nationally. Now about 30 girls are in the program, and its class of 2016 earned more than $1 million in scholarships and grants.
Where did you grow up? I grew up in Brooklyn. In the ’90s, Brooklyn had a lot of creativity and small-business owners. My dad owned a black theater in Manhattan, so I was there a lot. It was called the Ujamaa Black Theater. It put on dramatic plays, written and directed by my father, that told the black experience. I was in some of them.
Why come to Babson? I was a vocal major in high school, but I always loved business and entrepreneurship, too. I realized that either I would become Beyonce or do something else, and I knew I didn’t want to be a starving artist. I experimented with candy selling when I was in high school and made $1,000 a month.
What would be your dream job? I love the entertainment industry, so I work in marketing for Viacom. I really enjoy integrated marketing and would like to see where that journey takes me. But some day, maybe in my 40s, I think I’d like to work for the White House Council on Women and Girls. I learned about it when I was invited to the White House’s United State of Women Summit this June. About 5,000 women doing amazing things in their respective fields were invited. Oprah interviewed Michelle Obama about trailblazing the path for women. Every woman I ever wanted to meet was there.
A summit take-away? One idea can have an impact and change lives if you have the tenacity to stand up and be the leader.
A favorite entertainer? Maybe Kanye West. I know a lot of people think he’s a crazy man. But as outlandish as his vision is at times, the fact that he has the capacity to dream big and bold and doesn’t care about opinions and doesn’t let them deter him—that kind of confidence breeds success.—Donna Coco