Question #1: What are your short-term goals (in the next 18 months) and long-term goals for giving and what steps are you taking right now to ensure your success? Are there barriers to your success? If so, are they financial, physical, social/emotional, technical, cultural, and/or political? Please explain. Finally, how can AU support you in achieving your goals for giving?
I do not believe I have ever considered my plans for the future at such lengths and with such deliberation as I have in the past month. All I knew for sure was that I wanted to be an entrepreneur, a social entrepreneur so I could help others. How? I had not decided that yet; I always thought I would have more time.
Then why? Similar to author Laura Arrillaga-Andreessen, my mother was a great role model who showed me how rewarding giving can be, even at a young age. She constantly gave her time, money, and expertise day in and day out to a plethora of organizations and nonprofits that she felt did their part to improve the lives and provide opportunities for people in underserved community. Union Settlement Association, Community Mediation Services, World Vision, and the Church in NYC are just a few I remember but one thing I will never forget about my mother’s love for giving was that it was uncontainable. Once when I was in eighth grade, my mother sat my sister and I down to talk to us about using our allowance to sponsor a child in Cambodia. When I tried to tell my mother that I was too young to give, she explained to me that giving had no biases, that giving accepted helpers of all ages, races, gender and social class and came in all different forms. So I decided that, just like my mother, I would serve humanity by giving.
In the next 18 months I plan to attend the Young People’s Conference in Brazil with other members of the church and give by spreading the word of God to people there who have not had the opportunity to experience a life of Christ. Other ways I plan to give are connected to my involvement in the Frederick Douglass Distinguished Scholars program here at American University. As part of the FDDS program, I have the opportunity to participate and contribute to projects involving the Smithsonian National Museum for African American History and Culture as well as serving on the board for Scholars 4 Progress.
Essentially, Scholars 4 Progress, or S4P, is a precollege mentorship program that works to provide high school students in the D.C. community with suitable college mentors as a way to combat the alarmingly low graduation and college enrollment rates of the “at risk” youth in DC public schools. (“At risk” just meaning first generation students that have the opportunity to be the first of their family to attend college, minority students, students from low-income families, etc.) As Coordinator of External Relations, I have the duty of expanding S4P’s connections by networking with various people and organizations willing to give their money, expertise and time to our program. I am also charged with the tasks of coming up with creative ways to earn revenue and stimulate donations, creating a partnership with American University’s School of Education, handling the social media sites established for the purpose of expanding S4P’s reach, and branding a name for S4P beyond the walls of American University and Washington D.C. Currently Scholars 4 Progress is an emerging program connected to one high school and offered only to sophomore students in both high school and college. In 18 months, I hope to have fully accomplished every responsibility that was given to me and do such a great job that the small influence Scholars 4 Progress currently has as a newly established program at AU and Woodrow Wilson High School opened only to sophomores in high school and college develops into a larger enterprise with influences in other high schools and with mentor/mentee opportunities opened to other high schools and college students in the D.C. and with more time the DMV area and then all 50 states.
My long term goal, as I mentioned earlier, is to be a social entrepreneur. A social entrepreneur refers to an individual who start their own business dedicated to finding innovative solutions to society’s most pressing social issues. Along with becoming a social entrepreneur, I would like to know 4 languages fluently by the time I am 40; Spanish, Korean, Igbo, and English. In order to ensure my success in achieving this goal, I am currently taking the necessary classes to expand my knowledge in both business and international problems and keeping an eye out for programs and internships that would propel me in the directions of my goal and reinforce my passion such as the Compass Fellow and Ashoka Changemakers. Regarding my passion for learning languages, I am taking world language classes, using Rosetta stone and practicing with fluent speakers. In Giving 2.0, Arrillaga-Andreessen emphasizes the need to marry one’s “passion with their knowledge,” in order to give effectively and that is what I intend to do, in my college years and beyond. By expanding my knowledge on global issues and world culture, I can connect with more people and give effectively to various organizations.
I do not expect the path to my desired future to be easy but I know the obstacles I will face will not be able to stop me. I am very passionate about giving and if I have to knock down some boulders along the way, that only makes it all the more satisfying. I know that in order to continue on the path I am now, networking with important people that could hasten my goals, and participating in programs and extracurricular activities that that I am passionate about are vital. But in order to participate in such affairs, I know I am going to need to maintain a high GPA throughout my four years of undergraduate education. Like Larry says, “this (education) is your job. You need a 3.2 to keep your job and a 3.67 for benefits,” and man do I want those benefits. If I fail to maintain a 3.67, though I am aiming for a 4.0 regardless, not only will I be faced with social and emotional barriers but it would also create a financial issue for me as well.; one that I cannot risk having.
The opportunity offered to students at American University to volunteer are so extensive that it would be a crime not to take advantage of them. Programs at American are so diverse. You can give by teaching DC kids to read or the AU janitorial staff, by getting active for a cause or walking to raise awareness. I know for me, personally, American has presented me with so many opportunities to give that I still struggle deciding which activities to participate in. At AU, all that a student needs to do is ask or show interest and just like that, an opportunity to give will open up.