The Journey of a Social Innovation Fanatic

My journey to this course has been gradual. Throughout high school I was involved in several service learning groups and activities—everything from peer mentoring to mission trips to a Guatemalan orphanage.

Based on those experiences, I came to BYU enamored with the idea of working with a nonprofit. But I had a dilemma: everyone I knew at the time that worked with nonprofits had studied international development or public policy, and I wasn’t too excited about studying either of those subjects. As a result, I bounced around from major to major, trying to find the right intersection of my skills and interests that would lead me to a nonprofit job after graduation. I finally settled on marketing.

During my second year at BYU, a friend in the business school who introduced me to the concept of social entrepreneurship. I felt like everything I had been searching for came together in this magical field; I was eager to learn more. A few months later, I left to serve a mission in Panama for 18 months. In Panama my desires to seek for solutions to problems like poverty, poor healthcare, illiteracy, and domestic violence were strengthened after witnessing them first-hand in the lives of a people I had learned to love.

Ngöbe–Buglé in Panama

With some Ngöbe–Buglé friends in Volcan, Panama

In my job search after my mission, I came across a job opening at the BYU Ballard Center for Economic Self-Reliance. I jumped at the opportunity, and I was lucky enough to get the offer. I spent the spring and summer fully immersing myself in every social entrepreneurship and social innovation opportunity that BYU has to offer, and I couldn’t get enough.

That fall I did an on-campus internship with Ashoka through Students for Social Entrepreneurship (SSE), and in the winter I did a marketing internship with The Innovation Network through Students for Social Innovation (SSI). I also volunteered with a local microfinance organization called MicroBusiness Mentors. Thanks to those experiences and the Ballard Center’s amazing network, I was able to spend the summer interning at Ashoka’s headquarters in Washington, D.C.

Working on a fundraising video at Ashoka in Washington D.C. (Photo courtesy of Ashoka US)

Now that I am back for my final year at BYU, I am taking this class for two reasons:
1. I love the Ballard Center, and I can’t bare to miss out on the opportunity to be part of its latest and most exciting work
2. I am passionate about social innovation, but I have also struggled to find my place within this space. I don’t necessarily feel like starting a social venture is my role in this field, but I haven’t figured out how else to fit in. I am hoping this class will help me put those puzzle pieces together.

I am excited to be in this class with you all and to see what we will learn and figure out together.