Meet the Neighbors

Meet Su Sanni, the College Athlete Turned Tech CEO/Entrepreneur

Su Sanni pic

Name:  Su Sanni

Occupation: CEO & Co-founder of WeDidIt (http://wedid.it)

Education: BA Psychology, MS Business Management at Boston College

Country of Origin: United States/Nigeria

Neighborhood: East NY

City/State: Brooklyn, NY

Number of years in the U.S.: 29

I am a first generation Nigerian American. I was born in Brooklyn, New York, but my parents always instilled in me a sense of “home” in our native Nigeria, West Africa. I still feel, to this day and every time I visit Nigeria, that a sense of heritage is reinforced. As I have gotten older and built a life for myself here in the U.S., I have also grown to understand how difficult it was for my parents to move away from their home in pursuit of the “American Dream”.  For this reason, I now realize how important it still is for them to see their children succeed and achieve the American Dream, while maintaining cultural ties to Nigerian heritage and history.

At the age of 24, my father Ganiyu Sanni-Thomas ventured off to the United States from Lagos, Nigeria in pursuit of higher education and advanced career opportunities. Like a fairy tale, he sent for my mother, his fiancée Linda Giwa-Sanni, to join him just 6 months later, when she was 19 years old. Like many strong-willed immigrants, they fought through the adversity of navigating a new land, new identities and limited work opportunities. My mother would tell me stories of what it was like for her going to class at an American university without yet being fully confident in her spoken English. During one presentation assignment, she recalls pouring her soul into a speech about the meaning of a piece of English literature.  After 10 minutes of uninterrupted monologue, she was disappointed and frustrated that her effort was met with only blank stares and confusion. It was then that she realized her classmates could not understand the presentation because of her thick accent and broken English.

Over the years, my mom tells me this story with some laughter, although I can only image how difficult this and many other experiences were for her as a new student, Nigerian immigrant and a young mother. In hindsight, my parents would say that their toughest challenge was raising a family under such trying circumstances.  For this reason, their story is mine, and I think about them, my heritage and experience with every milestone I achieve in pursuit of my own American Dream.

Without a doubt, my parents’ sacrifices and assimilation journey have served as inspiration and catalyst for my relentless pursuit of my dreams. As a teenager, I was obsessed with football, and despite never playing in high school, I earned a full scholarship playing NCAA Division 1 football at Boston College, as a walk-on. Later in my college career, I realized I didn’t want to study medicine anymore, and was captivated by business and banking. My undergraduate degree was in Psychology, and I graduated with a Master’s in Business Management, which led to my first job at an investment bank.

As I launched my career, I knew that it had been my life passion to employ technology to create change in my community. I dreamed of helping nonprofit organizations fundraise better, and in a few years, I made that dream a reality as CEO and co-founder of WeDidIt. WeDidIt is an online and mobile platform for nonprofit fundraising that provides organizations the tools they need to develop and launch engaging crowd-funding campaigns. This has been a rewarding venture, with acclaimed recognition such as “Startup of the Year” from The Wall Street Journal, among others. I owe my accomplishments to my parents, and honor the innumerable sacrifices they made so that I may achieve my goals and live my dreams.

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