Philip Mawamba, from Cameroon to Centralia College

Philip Mawamba
Philip Mawamba

Philip Mawamba, a second-year student and an All-Washington Academic Team member, was born in the African nation of Cameroon and, except for occasional visits to the U.S., lived the first 19 years of his life there. He is the son of an American missionary and a Cameroonian pastor. He grew up in a country known for poverty.

Mawamba was aware of the broader world around him but was able to stay focused on his educational goals. “I would say that living in America is an upgrade,” Mawamba said.

“I’ve seen first-hand how people make it on less than a dollar a day,” Mawamba said. “Now I want to impact as many people in developing countries as possible by empowering people through education and helping people develop resources that will improve their businesses and their lives,” he added.

Mawamba, who was home-schooled before attending a missionary school with an international student body, has set his sights on an advanced business degree and eventually plans to return to Africa to help create change, not only in Cameroon but in other emerging nations.

“Education unlocks a lot of doors. I want to learn as much as I can about business then go back to work to increase the educational levels of the people, set up schools, and expand people’s ability to succeed in business,” Mawamba said. “I want to be a part of change, to help raise the quality of life.” When he completes his education at Centralia College, Mawamba will transfer to a business college on the east coast to study international business.

He is fluent in English and French and is taking Chinese language classes and may travel to that country to better understand how the Chinese conduct business.

Mawamba got a taste for business while in the ninth grade in Cameroon. He set up a honey operation, bringing in raw honey from the northern part of the country, purifying it, then reselling it. He later took over a bacon and ham operation where he cured the ham before selling it. Both business ventures were successful. His mother, a missionary to Cameroon, is originally from Winlock.

When Philip completed high school, the family relocated to the Centralia area. He found Centralia College, enrolled and, as is his style, got involved. He joined the International Students and Latino Unidos clubs, serving as an ambassador for the college to students in area high schools. He joined Phi Theta Kappa, the two-year college honor society and ran for and was elected as the vice president of the Associated Students of Centralia College. He also tutors French students.

Outside of class, Mawamba is active in his church and has taken part in cleaning a city park. He volunteers with a program that prepares and serves food to needy people. By the way, he’s doing all this while carrying a 3.9 grade point average.

“Education and an awareness of diversity are important,” Mawamba said. “The diversity of the people in the missionary school broadened my horizons while the individualized attention my teachers offered was essential in giving me an intellectual edge,” Mawamba said. “I’ve learned a lot about what is important and these are things I want to share.”

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