How I fell in love with social entrepreneurship

AshokaMy goal is to write more about social entrepreneurship and innovation here on this little blog, as well as other places around the world wide web. So, I thought I’d kick it off with writing about why and how I love this industry so much.

As a sophomore in college I had declared a journalism major, and was toying with the idea of an international development minor. It was the only thing that came close to learning about and finding ways of solving big world issues. But, international development didn’t feel quite right. A friend of mine told me to apply for an on-campus internship with Students for Social Entrepreneurship. I didn’t know what that was, but decided to go for it. From there, I landed an internship with Dowser, a solutions journalism site run by David Bornstein. And then I was hooked. I continued on with the program as an Internship Director for the rest of my college career. I met up with David in New York and again here at BYU when he was recognized as the Social Innovator of the Year. I recruited students to learn about social entrepreneurship and how it is solving the world’s problems by changing systems, rather than providing aid. The program went on to earn BYU a spot as one of Ashoka’s AshokaU Universities, signifying that we are a leader in social entrepreneurship education.

The summer after my junior year I was lucky enough to snag an internship with Ashoka’s News and Knowledge team. I moved to DC and worked on the 20th floor of a building in Arlington with the rest of the Ashoka DC staff. This is the summer where I realized I wanted to be involved with social entrepreneurship for the rest of my life. Everyday I was inspired by the people I worked with, the other interns I was experiencing this with, and the fellows starting their own businesses in their countries to fix problems they recognized in their communities. I spent a good portion of my internship helping to coordinate a conference at MIT where we were flying in 20 social entrepreneurs from around the world, many of whom had never been to the U.S. before. I got to meet up at the conference with these amazing people and interview each of them for video spotlights on our website. And that’s when my heart burst and I was overwhelmed with a feeling of not feeling adequate and a feeling of amazement at what these people were dedicating their lives to. With each story of a fellow that writes under a pen name to avoid being thrown into jail again in Pakistan, or walking 30 miles every day in between Nepalese villages to implement radio systems to spread news, or getting beat up by the Venezuelan government for exposing stories they tried to keep hidden, I fell more and more in love. And then I traipsed around Cambridge with a fellow from Columbia that has just been named one of Forbes top 30 under 30 and another entrepreneur from Indonesia.

After my time in DC, I completed a few more internships in the field to help them with marketing and social media. And now, I’m left to my own devices to continue working and spreading the news about one of my passions. So, I’m working on it, and it will debut later this year. I can’t ignore this stuff and these people, because they are so cool and I want everyone to know about what they are doing.

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