POCATELLO – At the age of 10, Alma Jam crossed the Atlantic Ocean with her family to Pocatello to follow her father’s journey of obtaining a Ph.D. Jam, her mother and three sisters moved from Cameroon, West Africa, to Idaho while her father finished his education in political science at Idaho State University. At the age of 24, Jam now has dreams of travelling back to Africa and helping the country that she came from.
Jam is currently a master’s student in sociology at ISU. In September, Jam participated in the second annual Miss Africa Idaho, and surprised everyone, including herself, with a win.
The pageant is part of the Miss Africa Idaho Scholarship Program put on by GK Folks Foundation. This foundation is a non-profit organization in Utah and Idaho with the strong focus of providing educational and entrepreneurial resource opportunities for African students.
“The pageant was nothing like I expected,” Jam said. “I met a lot of amazing women and we became a family. It was educational and I learned a lot about my country and this community. I also got to learn about other countries in Africa. My parents were more shocked that I won than I was. They didn’t really understand what was going on. When everything happened my mom went crazy, she was shocked.”
Her talent was reading a poem she wrote titled “Cameroonian Woman,” which she also performed at the 2016 Africa Night at ISU. She said winning the pageant helped her in more ways than one.
“Part of winning Miss Africa Idaho is becoming a public servant, and now I have that experience,” she said. “The pageant helped me build my resume, and I have met so many great people and leaders in and out of this community.”
Jam was inspired by the Miss Africa Idaho 2014 winner, Davina Hull, to compete in 2015. Jam’s sisters told her about the pageant in 2014, but Jam was reluctant because she said it’s not her personality to perform in front of people.
After graduating from Century High School, Jam went to study at College of Southern Idaho. After a few semesters, she decided to follow in her father’s footsteps and attend ISU. She was unsure of what she wanted to study, but decided to take a sociology class and fell in love. She decided to pursue her bachelor’s and master’s degrees at ISU with a major of sociology and an emphasis on public health and research. As for post-graduation, Jam isn’t so sure of her plans yet.
“Law school is a very recent thought,” Jam said. “I would love to do research with a non-profit organization like the United Nations, and connect projects with Cameroon and the United States. I would also love to become an ambassador, and with all of the knowledge and experience I have gained from sociology, I want to become an author.”
Jam’s father owns a non-profit organization raising money for AIDS orphans in Cameroon. Jam said she would love to go back to Africa, as she hasn’t been back since she was 10. She hopes that one day, community members have the chance to take a trip to Africa.
“I encourage everyone to take a trip somewhere in Africa,” Jam said. “There are so many places to choose from.”