Beyond the day-to-day tasks, and nagging time clocks, lies a deep desire to help. To me, help is not just defined as making something easier or serving someone, but more the act of truly providing value and opportunity to one’s deepest need.
This desire isn’t new, just newly reignited.
Let’s go back to 2006 for a minute…
I graduated from high school feeling lost and somewhat selfish. Through a few fortunate encounters, my dad took me on a trip to Kenya alongside 21-year old Jena Lee, the co-founder of Blood:Water Mission. This was my first time out of the country, I didn’t know what to expect or how to behave, I just knew that I was going to Kenya and that was really cool. Through that trip, I met remarkable people, saw their lives being changed and saw how incredibly happy these Kenyan people were with something as simple as access to clean water.
Then there was me, bottle of water in hand, a suitcase bustling over with souvenirs and a camera full of pictures from experiences that some people will never have in their lifetime. I was embarrassed and left with a heavy heart. I knew that I wanted to do something, too … something great, like what Jena had done… my desire started to bloom.
In 2009, I was led to spend my summer in China, where I was tasked to nurture children undergoing life-saving surgeries. Once again, I saw needs being met in tangible ways that sparked something inside of me.
I was awakened to realize that I feel most alive when I’m serving others.
I knew that in my heart, but not in my mind, so I followed the path of least resistance. I went to college, graduated, and got a job in the design/advertising world.
I had doubts, convictions and pressure from others to ‘follow my dreams’, but I just didn’t know what that looked like. I was in a struggle between being responsible and practical or just leaving it all behind and living out of a suitcase.
I focused on design because it’s where I was naturally gifted. When I realized I could actually make a living creating art, I went for it. I started my own business offering design services for small businesses and nonprofit organizations. I was successful by most standards, but I never felt like I had actually achieved ‘success’.
Over the past year, I’ve been asking myself a lot of questions…
- How do I find success?
- What does success look like?
- How do I integrate my desire to implement change with my current skill set?
- How do I meet the right people and have confidence to work with them?
- How do I create something that significantly impacts people’s lives?
- Where do I start?
- Who will help me? Who will support me?
I wanted answers and so this year, I’ve embarked upon a journey to get them. I’ve joined Experience Institute, a higher education program focused on designing your own education. I can explore these questions while working alongside anyone that I choose or with any organization that inspires me, all with the support and guidance of a seasoned, reliable team of people.
As I step into this year, I’m pursuing the intersections of strategic design, business, user experience and product development.
I aspire to design and develop products, services and systems that can assist people in times of disaster or emergency, as well as people that live in poverty or desolation. These developments will bring sustainable value to those in need and to organizations that are providing real-time tools and resources to save people in crisis.
People matter. Each person’s life is so valuable. I believe that it’s important for us to understand that none of us chose where we would be born, or what our upbringing would be. I was fortunate enough to have been freely given all of my necessities; a safe home, resources, education and a support network. Now that I have seen and am aware of the other side, I’m willing take responsibility to make an impact.
This year will be my biggest leap yet. I’m seeking to learn how to use my skills for the vision of bringing value and sustainable life to others.