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Reflections from Wooster alumnus earn best-seller spot on Amazon

Itai David Njanji ’11

College of Wooster alumnus Itai David Njanji ’11 recently published a book of poetry that’s topping Amazon’s best-selling new releases in poetry about places. A major in both mathematics and computer science, some in his field may never take an interest in the art of writing poetry, but he sees “beautiful code and balanced equation” as a balance between science and art. The book, Reflections, includes poems written over 15 years and encompasses growing up in Africa, his life in America, and his travel to over 21 countries. Completing the book Njanji says, “truly felt like I was on my desk in Timken Library again. In a broader way, I never really graduated from the pursuit of knowledge and learning which I.S. initiated.”

Coming to Wooster after going to high school in Zimbabwe on a cricket scholarship, Njanji appreciated the College’s ability to give him a well-rounded education and the opportunity to explore different majors. “Wooster was the right size for an international student to find a home, not too big and not too small,” he said. Being exposed to different subjects led him to focus on mathematics and computer science instead of pre-med, and his involvement in student organizations including the Black Students Association, as president of the International Student Association, a resident assistant, and a participant in AMRE, Wooster’s Applied Methods and Research Experience program, allowed him to develop leadership skills to work in multiple industries and businesses early in his career including Goldman Sachs, Microsoft, and Expedia. Now as Head of Strategic Alliances at Amazon Web Services, he leads teams globally, considering himself a “people first” leader. “Wooster gave me the experience of working with different folks from different countries. Whether it’s an engineer in India, a business leader from Germany, or a customer from Brazil,” he said, “I enjoy developing the best leaders and dreaming what was once thought impossible. Wooster is the first place I was exposed to the world in a microcosm of students.”

Njanji credits his experience with the process of completing his Independent Study, building the topic and working closely with his mentors for the way he thinks about much of his work. “I still ask for help today, and I am not afraid to say I don’t know,” he said. His work on Reflections echoes this process. He worked closely with a project manager, editor, and public relations consultants to create a book he’s proud of. “I wanted to tell my story to my future family and kids as I have been in America for almost half of my life and did not want this history to be lost. I hope this collection of poems will be a way for them to know my life before, and for them to celebrate and lay claim to our shared history and culture.” He also hopes to inspire young writers and encourages them to ask for help in the same way he learned to at Wooster. “A lot of the work/technology I specialize in today did not exist when I was at Wooster,” he said. “I can’t imagine how I could’ve had the career I have today with a narrow education.”

Posted in Alumni, News on June 28, 2022.


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Related Areas of Study

Mathematics

Numbers + patterns + structures multiplied by a zest for analysis and inquiry

Major Minor

Computer Science

Solve complex problems with creative solutions using computer programming and applications

Major Minor

Africana Studies

An interdisciplinary approach to interpreting the lives and experiences of the world's Black women and men.

Major Minor

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