Over the next few days, the incoming Class of 2026 will arrive at Babson College to start a new learning experience. They come from all over—35 states and over 40 countries—and they are excited to begin a journey that will challenge them to take bold action. They arrive as learners, but also as entrepreneurs, change makers, and deep thinkers in their own right. Their early successes in business, the arts, athletics, and academics set them up to ask questions about the world, their place in it, and how to solve global problems big and small.
We caught up with a few Class of 2026 students about what brought them to this point in their lives and how they plan to seize their Babson moment.
Bowling Green, Kentucky
Zoe’s academic record and extracurriculars aren’t the only reason she stands out. She’s also the first person from her high school to apply to Babson. And, now she’s the first to attend, as a Presidential Scholar.
You are the first person from your high school to apply to Babson. What are you excited to do here?
“Because I spent the first eight years of my life in the Boston area, I was familiar with many of the colleges and universities nearby. Babson was a school I wanted to apply to because of its business-oriented education, and because it can provide me with a solid grounding in the liberal arts. There are countless opportunities to explore not only business but also personal interests through all the student organizations on campus. Babson also has such a diverse environment, which is important to me because I want to build a greater global perspective.”
You were awarded the Presidential Scholarship. What does this mean to you?
“It is an incredible honor to be awarded the Presidential Scholarship. When I was applying to colleges and universities with my specific interest in business, I was not confident in my own abilities. I started many of my extracurricular activities later than my peers, and business felt like another interest that I was coming to late. Although through hard work I succeeded in academics and in my extracurricular activities (such as earning first place all-around at a gymnastic competition, making the Kentucky All-State Orchestra several years in a row, and qualifying for the varsity cross-country team), I was not sure I was prepared for the rigors of a business program like the one offered by Babson.
“When Babson offered me the Presidential Scholarship, I realized the College saw in me the potential to succeed, not only in my studies but also as a businesswoman. This scholarship will encourage me to live up to my potential not only by working hard but by challenging myself to be the best I can be.”
Joshua Harding already has tackled many business challenges as an entrepreneur. His experiences in business and as a high school debater will come in handy as he takes on Babson’s signature first-year course, Foundations of Management and Entrepreneurship (FME).
What interested you in Babson?
“I wanted to apply to Babson because of my entrepreneurial mindset. They have the best entrepreneurship program, and I wanted to be a part of that. I am an entrepreneur myself, and I knew Babson would help strengthen my business skills.”
You participate in debate, and it has helped you with your stutter. Can you talk about that journey?
“It was important because it helped give me the confidence to do public speaking. I stutter a lot and, as a child, I didn’t like to speak because kids would laugh at my stutter. Debate taught me how to speak clearly and confidently. The techniques I learned not only improved my stutter but helped me improve as a speaker in general.”
Tell us about your streetwear resale company. Why did you start it, and what has the process been like?
“I started my sneaker resell business as a freshman in high school. I saw my friends paying a ton of money for sneakers and reselling them for even more, and I wanted to get in on the business. The process has been rough. I have lost money a ton of times, but each time I learn from my mistakes and continue grinding back to the position I am in now. The biggest thing I’ve learned is you can’t rush into money. The times I lost money were when I was trying to make quick cash. I have now learned that the best things take time.”
New York City
Ally Bueno is an alumna of Seeds of Fortune, a program for young women of color that focuses on higher education and financial literacy. She entered the program in high school, thinking she would study law in college. A few years later, she’s at Babson, pivoting to business, with a passion for networking, community engagement, and dance.
Why did you choose Babson College?
“In my Seeds of Fortune program, we did lots of practice interviews and college essay writing, and, for a whole year, I was writing about going to school for law. But, after more and more career discoveries, I realized I didn’t want to study law anymore. I became interested in finance and business because numbers made sense, numbers weren’t wrong, and numbers couldn’t be argued.
“That’s when I decided to take a look at Babson, and, when I made that career switch, I realized Babson was already all around me. My mentor, the executive director and founder of Seeds Nitiya Walker ’14, is a Babson alum. My assigned mentor from my first year at Seeds was a current Babson student. The Seed Sister I looked up to the most was committed to Babson as well. These are some of the most intelligent and impactful women I know. Inspired by them, I knew I wanted to surround myself with more like-minded people in college.”
“When I made that career switch, I realized Babson was already all around me.”
Ally Bueno '26
How do the arts play a part in your life?
“My love for the arts began when I was younger when I moved to the United States from the Dominican Republic at age 4. I didn’t speak any English. I joined an after-school program called Educational Alliance. In the program, there were dance classes, and the dance teacher, at first, intimidated me because of how vibrant and outspoken she was. I grew to love her, the program, and dancing because before I picked up the language, I was able to pick up the dance moves, feeling a little less displaced, a little more in sync. Dance didn’t need words—it was a language of its own.”
Zecheng (Roy) Zhao
Roy Zhao’s first business school was his family’s furniture company, where he learned about collaboration, design, and leadership from his father and uncles. He hopes to take over that business one day.
You want to take over your family’s business. What have you learned about business and leadership from your family?
“It is a furnishing company with designs introduced from the European market. Over the past 20 years, my father and his brothers worked closely together to operate this business. They hold different responsibilities but work toward the same goal.”
What qualities make a good entrepreneur?
“I believe it’s the leadership mindset that one processes. A good entrepreneur might not be the most creative or the smartest, but they are always someone who can gather around a group of powerful people and make good use of them. They are also able to maintain a positive influence on the business itself.”
You are a talented horseman. What has that experience meant to you?
“Horsemanship teaches me how to handle frustration. Since I don’t share the same language with my horse, we often encounter difficulties when working together. For example, he might not understand what direction I am trying to guide him in or he is just simply having a tough day. Thus, frustration is inevitable. My job as a rider is not to blame it on the horse but rather to improve myself to achieve better cooperation.”