Near-death experiences have the ability to change your whole life’s perspective. Something changed in Jonathan Mboyo Esole too, when he had gone through that experience at the age of just 2 and a half years old. He had a heart condition and had literally zero chances of living, so much that even the doctors declared that he was gone. Turns out, however, he was an anomaly, with a slight problem in his language development, due to the experience.
While this Northeastern University professor was admitted to supplementary programs to get him up to speed, he was given books to read at home. His favourite from the lot was about Albert Einstein. “It said, this is the smartest guy in the world, and he used to have some problems at school as well,” Esole recalled. “That story is not completely accurate, but it definitely worked for me.”
Einstein’s story inspired him to pursue a career in math and science, despite his problems of language development because of his near-death experience. Now, he’s been honoured with ‘Next Einstein Fellow’, which is an award bestowed upon Africa’s young and talented technologists and scientists. Esole has always been the brightest; he proved it when he got second highest marks in the whole country for math and physics, in a state exam. He achieved a scholarship to the University of Cambridge after he solved a seemingly unsolvable physics problem – just by making it a solvable equation in mathematics.
Esole has studied at Stanford University too and has gotten a fellowship from Harvard. Since then, he has settled willingly and comfortably in his role as a Math professor at Northeastern. “I really love the university. It has this point of view that we are going for greatness, and that’s also how I live my own life,” he mused.
The Next Einstein award has allowed him to trot around in Africa, helping the community and the students. Esole’s first and foremost wish is to bring the achievements of the African scholars in the limelight for the whole world to see. “I want people to change their point of view that Africa is only a place waiting for help,” he said. “The continent’s people can help themselves pretty well, and they have a lot to offer.”