Kristofer (Kris) Madu chose to study at Hopkins because “its people are exceptional: students, professors, and members of the community alike. It is filled with opportunity. Over the past four years I have found myself growing in all areas of my life because I’m being pushed by the people around me to do so.”
Kris originally chose to major in International Studies, but ended up also minoring in Economics. “When I first came to Hopkins, I was actually intimidated by economics. However, due to my primary major’s requirements, I had to take economics courses. When I took my first class with Professor Barbera–it was like a fire was lit inside of me. The content was difficult, but I worked hard, and the harder I worked, the more I began to like it. I began taking electives. Classes I enrolled in not because I had to but because I wanted to. One such class was Professor Dasgupta’s International Monetary Economics. I went in scared, because I was outside of my comfort zone. I took notes, attended office hours, built a relationship with my professor. I fell in love with the subject matter, and returned home to Jamaica on holiday break talking nonstop about it to my family.” Kris was born in Nashville, TN, raised in Kingston, Jamaica, and is Nigerian and Jamaican by heritage. “All my life I’ve considered the three nations home.”
Outside of the classroom, Kris founded First Friday’s Group, backed by Johns Hopkins and Red Bull, a new venture that provides thousands of youth in Baltimore with free education in the creative arts and an opportunity to perform for pay. Kris also organized Water Is The Answer, a nonprofit group which provides clean water for a community of 20,000 in a small village in Nigeria. Finally, Kris was loathe to give up his music interests. Under the name Travis Karter he participated in a national tour stop alongside Republic Records artist Yung Gravy, and streamlined four albums around the world.
Kris completed a senior thesis entitled “Creative Entrepreneurship & Economic Growth in African Nations.” “I analyzed a selection of African nations:South Africa, Nigeria, and Uganda, highlighting the unique forms of entrepreneurship that develop within each nation, reflecting their respective colonial histories. Often our discussions of developing nations focus on poverty and economic disadvantage, and our discussions of entrepreneurship are US/euro-centric. I wanted to show the dynamic forms of entrepreneurship unique to the regions in question, as well as the critical role Western colonization played in these nations’ underdevelopment.”
Kris is a recipient of the Richard B. Fisher Scholarship, a prestigious award granted on the basis of academic and personal merit, and this summer will work at Morgan Stanley’s Investment Banking Division in New York City. Come fall, he will start a master’s in international economics at Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies.
“The same kid who came to Hopkins initimidated by economics is leaving Hopkins with a promising career in the field. Economics taught me that through applying yourself, even the things you think are your weaknesses can become your strengths.” Ultimately Kris thinks of his career through two lenses: passion and impact. “Am I doing work I’m passionate about? Am I having a global, and positive impact? If the answer is yes, then I’m happy.
Insights for potential majors? “Build relationships with your professors. Trust me. Not only will it make class more engaging, but subconsciously you will try harder and succeed more due to that relationship. In the future, it’s those professors whom you impress who will go to bat for you when you pursue other professional and academic opportunities.”