David Obwaya, a senior student of color studying economics at the College of Arts and Science, stands on NYU steps.


David Obwaya wants to understand what makes the world tick. That’s one reason the Blaine, Minnesota, native chose the NYU College of Arts and Science (CAS). “I wanted to experience a college that would expose me to more aspects of the world,” David says. He knew NYU’s setting in one of the world’s biggest cities would give him abundant opportunities to learn about anything. This big-picture curiosity also drove him to choose his major, Economics, with a concentration in policy. In high school he liked many subjects, including English, math, and social studies. “Economics was the perfect mix of the different disciplines,” David says. “The program here at CAS was especially enticing because it focuses a lot on the actual empirical study of how the world works, not just theory.”

Giving Back to the Community

In the summer of 2020, David witnessed the toll of an economic downturn as many businesses struggled to stay open during the COVID-19 pandemic. Some Black-owned businesses were hit particularly hard. Along with six other students across universities, he cofounded the BLK Foundation, for which he serves as the chief investment officer. The foundation provides grants, mentorship, and other resources to Black social impact–centered entrepreneurs.

One grant recipient was an organization that runs camps for young students of color to learn about careers in science, technology, engineering, and math. Without the ability to do in-person fundraisers, the organization was on the brink of shutting down. But the BLK Foundation helped them reopen their programs as COVID-19 restrictions eased.

Connecting to the Global Market

The BLK Foundation isn’t the only way David has put his classroom learning into context. Last summer, he interned at Goldman Sachs as a global markets analyst. “That was really exciting,” David says. “In that position you’re really at the forefront of all things business and the capital market as we know it.”

Through his internship, David found himself comparing all the teachings of his economics classes with his practical experience in the office. “The experience drew on pretty much everything I’ve ever learned, throughout any discipline. And I ended up really liking the people and the product of what I learned.”

Giving His All, on and off the Track

Between all these activities and his Economics major, David is also a varsity track athlete who runs hurdles. He admires track because of its emphasis on personal effort, with results that depend on how much you put into it. “There was really no better way for me to see how far pure effort could take somebody,” David says. “I feel like I learned a lot from that sport.” Through running at NYU, he’s been able to compete among some of the best schools and athletes in the country.

For his final year at NYU, David is excited to simply enjoy the rest of his college experience. After he graduates, he plans to pursue a career in finance or the investment industry while staying in New York City, where he first discovered his passion. “I think NYU provides you with unlimited opportunities and potential in terms of following what you’re passionate about,” David says. And he offers this advice for future students: “Figure out what you’re passionate about, then go hard at that, because the doors are endless in New York City and at NYU.”

Build Your Business at NYU

If you have an idea for a venture like David’s—or any business endeavor—the Berkley Center for Entrepreneurship at the NYU Stern School of Business will teach you to test your ideas, start your business, build a brand, and so much more.