Laurent Bingwe grew up in a French-speaking household in Cameroon with seven siblings, studied hard in school as was expected by his parents and has been a vegetarian since he was a child. But his most defining moment came as a teenager when he discovered he had a talent for fixing things, including the family car.
“After graduating from a technical high school, my family wanted me to study in the U.S.,” says Bingwe. “I was interested in getting technical automotive skills, but first I applied at Wayne State University since they had an English program where students all over the world can learn English from scratch.”
Bingwe, who also speaks German and three African dialects, knew he wanted to live in Michigan because, he says, it is home to the “Motor City” and the “Big Three.” After learning English at Wayne, he began searching for the next step in his journey.
“There were many colleges that offered automotive programs throughout the state. However, I heard many great reviews about Macomb Community College,” says Bingwe, shown here at the South Campus Learning Center where he tutors French students. “I must say it was a very great decision. The instructors here are more than dedicated. They always want to see their students succeed.”
Bingwe continues to take automotive courses at Macomb after working as a service technician at a Mercedes Benz dealership as Optional Practice Training under his F1 student visa. He is in the process of receiving a Green Card through a “lottery,” which will allow him to remain in the United States as a permanent resident.
“I am very grateful to my parents for providing me the financial support and encouragement to do this.” says Bingwe, “And as my immigration status evolves, I want to stay and work with the research and development team at Mercedes Benz.”
Cameroon, an African nation bordered by the Gulf of Guinea and the Sahara Desert, is home to savannahs and rainforests, wildlife preserves and national parks, marketplaces and museums. But its abundance of natural and cultural riches is not what Bingwe misses most.
“It wasn’t easy to leave family and friends behind and move into a different life setting,” he says. “But my experience at Macomb has been very positive. I have met amazing people, including staff and teachers, and made many new friends. These people have helped me reach my goals.”