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#MyWheaton Alumni Blog

Posted January 26, 2017 by
Tags: Young Alumni The Liberal Arts Entrepreneurship Student Activities Study Abroad

I chose to go to Wheaton because when I visited campus I noticed something different–music. Trumpets on Blanchard lawn, guitars in the quad, pianos in every dorm lobby, and a whole Conservatory devoted to music. I’m not a musician but it’s music that made me see Wheaton as more than the typical academic institution–it stood out as a place full of life.

And ‘living fully’ is the value I got out of Wheaton. Wheaton taught me about holistic and earnest personal development of my mind, body, and soul. I wasn’t a top student or a Pierce Chapel rockstar at Wheaton (unlike my French House housemates), but I did take full advantage of everything I could and joined College Union, Student Government, ROTC, intramurals, The Wheaton Record, snow crew, and many other clubs / groups on campus. I also formed some cohorts of best friends that I still meet with annually eight years later. I’m proud to have started the Roller Disco and to have co-led a few rings of healthy mischief, as well as to have engaged with brilliant professors like Dr. Sandra Joireman and Dr. Jacobson. 

Wheaton campus life and my experience as an international relations major interning in Goma, Democratic Republic of the Congo in 2007 inspired me to join the Peace Corps which in turn inspired me to co-found the social enterprise I run today, Jibu. (Jibu means the answer or solution in Swahili. Like the English word "answer," in the imperative it can also mean "respond.")

Wheaton catalyzed the journey that led to Jibu’s vision and holistic approach to equip African entrepreneurs, via an eye-to-eye partnership model, to launch and own safe drinking water businesses. Building a sustainable solution to the global emerging markets’ most pressing problems requires looking at a bigger picture–including human capital development, economic viability, relationships, and technology. Consistent with what I first began learning as a Wheatie, Jibu drives holistic, people-centered development.

Today, Jibu has launched over 140 locally-owned safe drinking water businesses that employ more than 450 people and serve safe drinking water to hundreds of thousands of people across three countries. Our vision is to empower many more entrepreneurs globally to build permanent, financially sustainable solutions to meet basic needs, including providing safe drinking water. There have been many steps along the way since I graduated in 2009, but Wheaton set the trajectory for the path I have taken and, ultimately, to the impact Jibu has made.

Galen Welsch ’09 graduated from Wheaton with a degree in international relations. He currently works as co-founder of social enterprise Jibu, and was recently nominated as a member of Forbes’ 30 Under 30. Photo captions (top to bottom): Jibu water is transported to underserved populations; members of the Jibu team celebrate their finished product.

To connect with alumni in various careers and vocations nationwide, join Wheaton in Network, a Vocation and Alumni Engagement program that allows alumni and parents to make themselves available to advise or mentor Wheaton students and recent grads. Students and alumni are able to contact advisers or mentors to learn from their experiences.