“Driven” is one easy way to describe Mahamat D’jour ’24. But one conversation with him will also reveal his optimism, enthusiasm, intelligence, sense of humor, and likely a few of the other positive traits that make D'jour who he is.
For starters, D’jour explains, his choices in life are centered on three goals: “I want to be president of Chad. I want to be a billionaire. And I want to retire by 40.”
Lofty goals, but there is logic behind them all.
D’jour’s family emigrated from the Republic of Chad in north-central Africa when he was eight-years-old. “I didn’t know English when I got here,” he says. “It was all about trying to learn the language and just passing my ESL [English as a second language] classes.”
His family valued education highly among the other opportunities available to them in their new country and D’jour persisted, eventually becoming fluent and going on to excel academically.
As a high school student, D’jour became known for his involvement in school activities. He joined clubs like Dance Marathon, participated in student government where he lent his energetic voice to the Spirit Team, and captained his high school cross country team.
As his life was shaped by these experiences, D’jour looked back on his home country and thought about how he could make a difference there.
“Looking back at Chad, it was just like, well, the country is very corrupt and the people there just want to live their normal lives, but don’t have the education or the means to...And if you want to make an impact in a corrupt country, it’s difficult,” says D’jour.
The current president of the Republic of Chad has been in office since 1990, for example, so change is slow at best. To help enact the systemic change required to really improve peoples’ lives, D’jour says the best route is to aim for the presidency.
That’s where the billion dollars comes in. “Not million—billion,” D’jour says with a smile.
“When I’m [in Chad], I will be able to help out with building hospitals, helping with education, and just, in general, having the entire country on the same page, rather than helping on the individual level,” he says.
Lest you think this in pie-in-the-sky talk, he adds, “Just studying countries like Singapore, which went completely from being a third world country to a developing nation—it was just like, OK, if a small country with no resources could do it, like, what's stopping a country in Africa from doing it?”
D’jour’s entrepreneurial spirit may be one of his biggest assets along this path. “I love creating things,” he says.
That’s the primary reason he intends to major in mechanical engineering. He also loves math.
While D’jour enrolled at Notre Dame with the intention of majoring in political science, he found that the coursework didn’t suit him. He wanted to make things and learn how to bring ideas and products to market.
In addition to switching majors, D’jour also became an undergraduate fellow with the IDEA Center. IDEA stands for Innovation, De-Risking, and Enterprise Acceleration. The center is the campus hub for commercialization and entrepreneurship.
Through all his activity, D’jour keeps his three big goals in sight. The possibility of falling short doesn’t bother him. “If I have to reset the bar to retire at 45, that’s cool,” he says.
The point is to aim as high as he can—not for the sake of achievement, but because that’s how he can make the greatest impact.