Class of 2024: They Call Him Manny

Emmanuel Nsanganwa stands by the Babson World Globe

The walk was long. 

To attend high school in his native Rwanda, Emmanuel Nsanganwa ’24 had to walk nine miles round trip every day. “You would get tired walking every morning, every evening,” he says. “It was high exhaustion.” During hard rain, he might not be able to make the trip at all. Flooding might force him to spend the night at school or a friend’s house instead of walking home. 

To help rural Rwandan students afford to attend their local boarding school, instead of having to trek such long distances to receive their education, Nsanganwa co-founded the nonprofit The 9 Mile Project. Here are five things to know about his life in Rwanda, his family, and his journey to Babson, where everyone knows him as “Manny,” as part of our ongoing series spotlighting the Class of 2024 ahead of the College’s May 11 Commencement ceremonies.  

First Day on Campus 

Nsanganwa came to Babson as a Global Scholar. When he first stepped foot on campus as a first-year student, he arrived at 1 a.m., and the first person he met was Jake Mullaney ’24, his roommate who had stayed up waiting for him. The two bonded and shared their experiences of growing up, and Mullaney went on to be a co-founder of The 9 Mile Project. “We became brothers,” Nsanganwa says. “It’s been since freshman year, the first day at Babson, until the last day.” 

Friends at Babson 

Jake Mullaney and Emmanuel Nsanganwa
Emmanuel Nsanganwa ’24 (right) met his friend and fellow co-founder of The 9 Mile Project, Jake Mullaney ’24, on his first day on campus.

In addition to Mullaney, Nsanganwa became tight with a group of friends who called themselves “the boys.” “Those are the people with whom I really felt included,” he says. With the boys, Nsanganwa experienced snow, as well as the seashore, for the first time. “They asked me what was something I was curious to see, and I said the ocean,” he says. “We drove to the Atlantic, but five minutes before we arrived, they were like, hey, we’re just going put a mask on you until we get there. So that’s how I was so surprised. I was so happy.” 

A Favorite Professor 

When asked about professors who have influenced him, Nsanganwa mentions Elizabeth Swanson P’19, the Joyce and Andy Mandell Endowed Professor of Literature and Human Rights. In her Literature of Black Atlantic class, Swanson discussed the Rwandan genocide, a horrific tragedy in 1994 not often spoken about in courses or society at large. “She brought my culture and my background into the classroom,” Nsanganwa says. In her Literature of Witness course, he thought about his personal history, about growing up in a village in Rwanda’s countryside, about walking those nine miles every day, about coming to Babson. Nsanganwa wasn’t used to such introspection. The course made him appreciate the uniqueness of his experiences. “It is a course that taught me to look from within,” he says. “That is a class that really influenced me.” 

Life After Graduation 

Nsanganwa only has a few credits left to fulfill, so he’s completing them online while living in Rwanda this semester. He already is building his post-graduation life there. He has a job lined up as an investment analyst at a private equity firm, and he will continue to work on The 9 Mile Project. The nonprofit’s goal is to pay the $120 tuition at Rwandan boarding schools for students in need. Like many rural Rwandan families, Nsanganwa’s couldn’t afford that fee, which is why he had to make that nine-mile trek to one of the country’s regional high schools, institutions that typically don’t have running water, consistent electricity, or proper school materials. 

Nsanganwa’s post-Babson life also will include a family of his own. He was married last year, and his son was born last month. “I am the happiest in my life now,” he says. “It is my best moment.” 

Home in Rwanda 

Nsanganwa never thought of living anywhere else but Rwanda. He was born four years after the genocide, and as time passed, he watched as his country healed. He and his new family are living in Kigali, the nation’s capital. “Rwanda is one of the fastest growing economies in the world,” he says. “It is an opportunity I don’t want to miss. I want to grow with the country.”   

READ the first installment in our ongoing series spotlighting members of Babson’s Class of 2024. 

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