Scholar Speed Round: 2015 Bezos Student Scholar Liston Cosmas

Catch up with a student Scholar and read their rapid-fire responses to a collection of semi-random questions in the Scholar Speed Round.

By Liston Cosmas, 2015 Bezos Scholar

3 mins

Liston Cosmas

Liston was a 2015 Bezos Scholar from the African Leadership Academy (ALA). A highlight from his Scholar year was attending sessions lectured by international leaders, entrepreneurs, and artists across multiple disciplines while having the opportunity to engage in conversations alongside other brilliant student and educator Scholars.  

After the Aspen experience, Liston and four of his peers from ALA organized the 4th annual South African Ideas Festival, a three-day event where they hosted more than 30 exceptional African youth. At the Festival, programming designed built students’ skills in developing big ideas and turning those ideas into enterprises, knowing the enterprises would have a long-term impact on their communities. When looking back on his experience, Liston is most appreciative of learning how to digest information quickly and use reflection as a tool to guide his leadership and team building skills.  

Liston is the founder and Chief Technology Officer of Cosmic Jaunt LLC, a startup that designs and builds affordable laptop computers and web servers that improve the quality of education in Africa. Cosmic Jaunt's products have launched in Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda and Tanzania.  

Liston is grateful for the BSP community as some of his mentors and investors for his startup came directly and indirectly from the exposure he had while at Aspen Ideas Festival. Currently, Liston is visiting his family in Arusha, Tanzania. While traveling, he plans to go on a safari in the Serengeti and hike Kilimanjaro Mountain.  His other hobbies include hiking and training as a private pilot. 

Here are 10 semi-random questions and answers with Liston! 

Share a favorite memory from when you were a Scholar: The talent show night is still my favorite memory. I loved all the great performances and that night everyone’s performance raised the bar for me. I had planned to sing in my native language (and I'm not good at singing) but at the last minute, I decided to perform a magic trick (spoiler: It was a math trick). 

Complete this sentence, “If you really knew me, you would know….” I prefer brewing tea over coffee. 

If you had a theme song, what would it be and why? My theme song would be “Float On” by Modest Mouse because I always try to remember the positive in challenging times.  

Reflecting on a challenge you have faced, what was a choice you made during that time and the change that occurred because of it? My biggest challenge, as an entrepreneur, was going to sleep every night. I was either too excited about an opportunity or trying to think of a solution to a problem. This happened every night, on weekends, over holidays; it was relentless. I solved this challenge by learning to prioritize my ideas and share them with people who might implement them in a better way than I would. Since I’ve changed my approach to this challenge, I've been having quality sleep.  

Scholar’s choice: What would you do if you weren't afraid? I would try skiing, bungee jumping and other extreme sports. 

At this moment in your life, what are you most proud of? I am proud of my startup, Cosmic Jaunt LLC. I am proud that we can make real change in the real world with our products. 

If you had a podcast, what would it be about? My podcast would be about stories. I think that story is the fundamental element of the world we live in. For example, I cannot talk about science without placing it within the context of a story. I also believe the best stories have inspired people in a greater way.  

What is the one thing you’re deeply grateful for right now? I am grateful for my friend Riziki. I am grateful for his spirit, his courage, his tenacity and his steady encouragement. I am grateful for his genuine friendship. People often ask me if I think the world will be better or worse 30 years from now. It’s because of people like him that I always say “better.” 

We’re blessed to have you as part of the Scholar community. Thank you, Liston!