Alex Wilson is shown here in his new job as a permanent substitute teacher at Madera South High School. He holds an MBA from UC Berkeley and is fluent in four languages. (Photo by Todd A. McElrath)
At first blush, no one in Madera would have given Alex Wilson much of a chance of surviving. Neither would they have guessed that he would come to America and become a successful businessman, nor would they have envisioned him teaching one day at Madera South High School.
After all, what chance did an orphan in West Africa have? His African-American father, who was in the U.S. Merchant Marines, had to leave Alex and his mother in their native Ghana when he was just a baby, then she died, making him parentless when he was just three.
Nevertheless, Alex did survive, and he climbed to the pinnacle of success in the American stock market only to lose it in the 2008 real estate collapse. Today, he is employed by Madera Unified as a permanent teaching substitute, and in the meantime, he is working to make his dream of financial independence a reality once again.
Alex was born in 1956, and after his father’s departure from Ghana and the death of his mother in 1959, he was placed in a Catholic boarding school. When he reached high school age, he was enrolled in St. Augustine’s College at Cape Coast, Ghana. Under the strict Jesuit influence at St. Augustine’s, Alex absorbed the school’s motto as his modus operandi, “Perseverance conquers all.”
Upon his graduation from St. Augustine’s, Alex moved to Baton Rouge, Louisiana, to meet and live with his father. In 1980, he came to California and enrolled in the University of California, San Diego, where he began an engineering major. While engaged in this pursuit, he was taken with the allurement of business and changed his major.
After UC San Diego, Alex decided to pursue an MBA at UC Berkeley. With an outstanding academic performance in San Diego and a score on the Graduate Record Exam in the 94th percentile, Alex was accepted without hesitation. He graduated in 1988, and set out to make his mark.
For the next twenty years, working from a San Francisco office, Alex engaged in option trading with phenomenal success. For two decades, he earned more money than he ever thought possible.
Then in 2008, as everyone knows, the bottom fell out; the bubble burst. Alex’s golden goose in the stock market stopped laying eggs. His company folded, and he had to look for other fields to plow. That’s what brought him to Fresno.
Drawing on what remained from his robust stock market days, Alex turned to real estate. He determined to buy some historic Fresno property and take advantage of its nostalgic value to the community, but it didn’t work. The recession was just too deep, so once more he dug deeply into his creative haversack of entrepreneurial skills and came up with an idea for healthy baby food.
This latest twist in Alex’s life came when he and his wife, Kimberly, became parents of a set of twins. She could not produce enough breast milk to feed the babies so they had to resort to infant formula. As it turned out, the babies could not take products that were currently on the American market, so they began importing infant formula from Switzerland.
It didn’t take the congenitally curious Alex long to investigate the situation. He discovered that families all over America were having the same problem he and his family were having with infant formula.
After consulting with experts in the field, Alex struck on a plan. He would produce healthier and more palatable infant formula. Using connections in Switzerland to produce the formula there, he would then import it to the United States and distribute it here.
At this point, Alex is looking for investment capital to accomplish the distribution part of his plan. In the meantime, he appears every day at Madera South High School as a “guest teacher.”
With his background, there are very few classes that are beyond his reach. He is fluent in English, French, German, and Spanish. His MBA at Cal has prepared him to teach any math class MSHS offers, and his knowledge of the world’s cultures and their cross fertilization sets him at ease in any history or geography class.
I don’t know how this “baby food” idea is going to turn out. I am neither a scientist nor a businessman, but I know a little bit about people, and my guess is that Alex Wilson is going to catch on in Madera.