Juan Magalhaes’21

Resilience has been a trait that I have honed since I was a little kid and has shaped who I am today. Growing up with a small family in the favelas (slums) of Brazil, I quickly learned and mastered the skill of resilience, working extremely hard to achieve my goals. I never had money, but my deep passion for learning carried me far. My mom works as a maid and my dad works as a butcher, and they rarely had enough money to give me what I wanted, but they always gave me what I needed. Whenever I had an excuse to not do something, I’d think about their 12-hour shift at work. They were never there to help me study for a test or help with my homework, but they were up every morning to go to work despite the rain, cold or sickness and that’s the best role model one can have. Knowing about my family’s financial situation, I started an ironing business at the age of 11– Wrinkle Free. I started off ironing for my aunts and they started telling their friends, who told their friends and just like that my business grew exponentially. I had customers all over the city and every weekend I would take the public bus by myself to go to their houses and iron their clothes for $5 dollars an hour. It wasn’t the best business out there, but I was able to avoid asking my parents for money and start learning about personal finances. At the end, I knew that a good education would carry me far, so I kept learning and increasing my passion for academics. I ended up teaching myself English in order to come to America and take advantage of all the amazing opportunities that this country offers.

After a lot of hard work, I received a full scholarship to study and play soccer at one of the top boarding schools in the nation, Cate School in Santa Barbara CA. At Cate I discovered community service and learned about the myriad ways I could give back to those in need, like myself. After a long research and brainstorming, I founded my own service project in South Africa called “Don’t Forget About Africa,” which has the principle goal of improving the infrastructure of schools in Africa, as well as their learning environments. Through fundraising dinners and donations, I was able to raise $10,000 dollars to build a kitchen at the Lwaleng Primary School, which now feeds 900+ kids on a daily basis. I also coordinated a group of 10 students from Brazil, South Africa, China and the United States to be part of this project. I negotiated the payment of local workers stipends, materials and housing for all 10 students and distributed over 900 kits of school supplies for every student at the Elementary School in White River South Africa. Community service offers me the opportunity to help bring up those forgotten by society, to bring up people like myself. The most personal growth I garnered from my service was from the people I helped, who offered me profound lessons about the human condition and our inherent empathy. These service experiences taught me that the pursuit of happiness in life is not derived from financial success but rather derived from forming deep connections with others and making positive, lasting change to help others first.

Following my entrepreneur spirit, after coming back from Africa I started a retailer online sneaker store, ShoeDawg, which seeks to provide low price, high quality sneakers to a wide range of consumers in Brazil. During our first month, we averaged a profit margin of about 152% and a total gross profit of R$8,195 Brazilian Reals during the rest of the summer. I was able to gain exposure to customer relations and learned how to manage sales, communicating closely with customers. Before I left Brazil to come to Bowdoin, I taught my younger brother everything I knew about the business. Since he will be starting college in February, I thought it would be a good idea to let him manage the business and use all of our profits to pay for his college. College in Brazil is not nearly as expensive as in the US, so our small profits are more than enough to pay for his education, which is extremely valuable to me.

During winter break, I knew I had to work on my resume and internship applications to guarantee a summer position before the spring semester started. Since I’ve always been passionate about entrepreneurship and finance in general, I thought it would be a good idea to look into positions at Brazilian Hedge Funds and banking positions. After conducting additional research, I found JMalucelli, an Asset Management company in the South region of Brazil, which leads the ranking of largest financial company in Brazil. JMalucelli has USD 1 billion dollars of assets under management in fixed income and equity markets, it also has purposeful work, culture of innovation and meritocracy as its main ideologies.