In a quiet conference room in University Hall, a student sits concentrating on the next big venture.
Anthony Tchakounte, a sophomore finance major, is the brains behind “What’s Next.”
“‘What’s Next?’ is going to be big,” Tchakounte said.
“‘What’s Next?’ is a consulting firm specializing in connecting universities to prospective international students and offering numerous services to both students and universities,” he said.
He started working on the project last April.
“I started by sending letters to more than 25 high schools in Cameroon on behalf of Tech, discussing the opportunities they have to offer students over here,” Tchakounte said.
After receiving several responses from the schools, Tchakounte said he came up with the idea to create a database.
He said the idea came from a personal experience.
“When I graduated from high school, I found it extremely difficult to choose a college in the USA,” he said. “For two years, I faced many challenges.”
The challenges Tchakounte faced are those many high school graduates are familiar with; however, in the U. S. students have the resources available to help steer the process ahead.
“I didn’t know who to contact for help, which institutions to apply to and what it took to be admitted into those universities,” Tchakounte said. “So I thought of a way I could help those back home who now encounter the same problems I did.”
In addition, Tchakounte said there are many students in Cameroon who have the finances to advance their education at universities in the U.S.; they just need someone or something to help with the process of getting here.
“My aim is to connect students with opportunities at this university while also connecting the university with the talents each student has to offer,” he said.
Although Tchakounte came up with the idea, he has been assisted by several university directors and professors in the development of this venture.
Dan Erickson, director of the International Student Office; Dave Norris, director of the Enterprise Center; Shane Puckett, speech professor; Debbi Inman, and Gene Trammell have helped to turn Tchakounte’s plans into a reality.
“Mr. Erickson has been giving me his unconditional assistance since the beginning of this project,” Tchakounte said. “Dr. Norris and Mrs. Debbi Inman have also helped by guiding me through the Bulldog Venture Program, and Puckett and Trammell are my mentors.”
Tchakounte said the statistics show creating businesses of this magnitude will not only help students to attend college in the U.S. but it will also boost the economy.
“Last year more than 700,000 students came to the U. S. for school, spending over $10 billion,” Tchakounte said.
Even though the database will not be available for use until mid-summer, there are several international students who are happy that there will be something to help current high school students when applying for school abroad.
Victoria Christiane Olinga, a Cameroon native, said the lack of agencies back home makes Tchakounte’s venture a good concept.
“As a freshman, I recently had a difficult time applying to U.S. schools,” Olinga said. “There are no agencies in Cameroon that link the student to the university, so I had to do most of my research myself.”
Similar to Olinga, Jean Pierre, from the Caribbean island of St. Lucia, said he is pleased about the creation of such a helpful tool.
The sophomore accounting major said the database would be a benefit to the people of St. Lucia.
“This is a great idea because we have a lot of people back in St. Lucia who are interested in attending school in the U.S., but they don’t know the procedures to take,” he said. “A degree from a school overseas is more recognizable than a degree from those within the country.”
Pierre also said this journey to Tech was easy, because he had friends who were students here so they assisted him in the admission process.
“If I didn’t know anyone attending school here I probably wouldn’t have came to the States,” Pierre said.
Email comments to kms...@latech.edu.