Two Dollars and a Dream: Bethel Network Helps Propel MBA Student Toward a Bright Future

Martin Gachanja GS’23 works six days a week as a truck driver and is just months away from completing his MBA at Bethel. Through the BethelBiz program, he met his mentor Phil Almeroth ’82, who has helped him see the impact of personal and professional connections.

By Cherie Suonvieri '15, GS'21, content specialist

March 03, 2023 | 1:30 p.m.

BethelBiz mentor and mentee, Phil Almeroth ’83 and Martin Gachanja GS’23

Phil Almeroth ’83 and Martin Gachanja GS’23 at the BethelBiz Mid-Year Career Exploration Event on February 16, 2023.

Martin Gachanja GS’23 arrived in the United States on January 28, 2016, with two dollars in his pocket and a dream. He came to create more opportunities for his family, a wife and two daughters who still live in Kenya. In May, he’ll graduate from Bethel University with an MBA degree, a new skill set, and a network of support.

According to Gachanja, the past seven years have required great sacrifice and included ups and downs as he’s worked six days a week to support his family from afar. He found his first job at a warehouse and later became a truck driver, a role that has taken him throughout all 48 adjoining states.  

Two years ago, he enrolled in Bethel University’s MBA program with plans to seek a professional job in the U.S. “Most importantly though, I want to find a way to give back to the community I left behind in Kenya,” Gachanja says. “I want them to know that they don’t have to come to America to change their life—that they can be whoever they want to be where they are.”

Prior to immigrating to the U.S., Gachanja was working on his master’s degree in corporate communication at Daystar University in Kenya, an institution Bethel partners with for student and faculty exchange programs. Having experienced the Christian community at Daystar, Gachanja desired something similar, which is what ultimately led him to Bethel.

Gachanja lives in Atlanta, Georgia, and his work keeps him traveling throughout the year, so Bethel’s online MBA program works well for him. This past year, he’s found increased opportunities for engagement with the Bethel community through BethelBiz, a mentoring program that connects current students with Bethel alumni who can help foster students’ development and build students’ networks of support.


“[My mentor has] guided me and given me a wider perspective on life, not just professionally but also personally.”

— Martin Gachanja GS'23

BethelBiz was originally created for undergraduate students, but last fall, the program was opened to MBA students as well. In September 2022, Gachanja began meeting virtually with his mentor, Phil Almeroth ’82. Almeroth is an alumnus of Bethel’s undergraduate business department and the director of capabilities at Logisolve.

“Ever since I met Phil, the journey has been great,” Gachanja says. “He’s guided me and given me a wider perspective on life, not just professionally but also personally.”

BethelBiz hosts three events throughout the year, and after meeting Gachanja and hearing his story, Almeroth decided he wanted to fly Gachanja to Minnesota so that he could experience one of the events in person. “I felt like he really needed to see the breadth of the Bethel community,” Almeroth says. “He’d driven through Minnesota, but had never been to campus. I wanted to give him that full exposure to the community, to the program, and to the opportunities available to him.”

Gachanja visited Minnesota last month for the BethelBiz Mid-Year Career Exploration event, which gives the program’s 128 mentees the opportunity to conduct informational interviews with three other BethelBiz mentors in their professional fields of interest. In addition to the connections Gachanja made at the event, he also got to meet several members of Almeroth’s network. He met Bethel community members known to Almeroth through various connections. Incidentally, the person who gave Gachanja and Almeroth a campus tour had previously worked as a youth pastor at Almeroth’s former church.

“When someone would ask Bill if he knew so-and-so, he’d say ‘I don’t know everybody, but I know someone who does.’ That’s the power of a network.”

— Phil Almeroth '82

As Almeroth took Gachanja past Bethel’s baseball stadium, Hargis Park, he told him about Bill Hargis (the stadium’s namesake), whom he met through coaching high school baseball. “I once heard a great quote from him,” Almeroth says. “When someone would ask Bill if he knew so-and-so, he’d say ‘I don’t know everybody, but I know someone who does.’ That’s the power of a network. You never know when those connections will be helpful for you or for someone else.”  

For Gachanja, the most valuable part of the BethelBiz program has been the opportunity to network and the relationship he’s formed with his mentor, Almeroth. “It’s been a wonderful journey, knowing Phil. He’s given me a blueprint. Often what I’m going through is something he has been through,” he says.  

Almeroth has found his mentoring relationship with Gachanja to be especially rewarding, and he looks forward to staying connected, even after the program ends. “I think it’ll be easy to stay in touch,” he says. “We have a few life experiences in common, and that’s something we’ve been able to share.”

Gachanja isn’t sure what lies ahead after graduation, but to him, the future is bright. “It’s so bright that it blinds my eyes,” he says. “I’m open to working in any part of the world. Wherever my services are needed.”

Committed to Mentorship

BethelBiz is a mentoring program designed to connect business and communication studies students with alumni and other business professionals to foster personal, spiritual, and professional development.

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