My internship with Kalu Yala has made a tremendous impact on the direction of my career path and has opened me up to a world of new possibilities because encountering new people means encountering new possibilities.

The biggest guiding questions that I found answers to and still wrestle through as seasons change are:

  • How are you going to use your privilege?
  • What is your personal calling in life and what is your method of channel?

One of the most life-changing experiences during my time in Panama was a conference called Hatch that was held at Kalu Yala. After attending Hatch, my values of work have changed. I value doing work that helps people. I also believe I can change the world even more and it’s possible to do meaningful work right after college. Overall, both Hatch and Kalu Yala are life-long communities of dreamers and doers that I am humbled to be a part of.

Photo by Carter Clark

A lesson I learned from a friend’s story is, don’t do a job that you’re not passionate or happy about when someone else out there would be more than happy to do. Don’t follow a dream that is not yours. If you’re not building your dream, you will be working for someone else’s. But keep in mind, “if you dream a dream alone, it’s just a dream, but if you dream with others, you make reality.” We cannot do anything on our own. Big change happens when we work together.

Therefore, knowing what you don’t want to do is just as important as knowing what you do want to do. My internship work helped me know that I am not called to design and build homes.

Next, I want to include a diagram of how to find your human super power, or what some others would call, your unique purpose.

Diagram by Eileen Walz

I had an incredible pleasure of meeting Kim Lewis, who was a designer on Home Extreme Makeover and now designs tiny homes on Tiny Home Nation. She came to help and work with us for a week and something she said struck a chord in me, “when you define what you want, you become a magnet for it.” I truly believe this. And sometimes we don’t even know what we want. But find out what it is, and when we really want something we’ll make it happen.

Also, she made me realize that everyone is born creative. And everyone is creative in adulthood, most of us just suppress it and don’t exercise it anymore like we used to when we were kids. So what is it that allows you to be creative? Is it ideating, drawing, building, designing, writing, painting, color, photography, filmmaking, mapping, organizing, talking, storytelling? Creativity is a skill that is practiced and strengthened, it’s something that is inherent to us but we have to work at. No one is born a great writer, they work at perfecting their skill each day to become a great writer.

Design Thinking team with Kim Lewis
Photo by Carter Clark

Now, being in the academia world of business, I believe the way we’ve done business in a linear model has led to the many environmental problems. One of my passions is to change the business model to a closed-loop system instead of a linear system. At the same time, I believe business will bring the most positive change because business has the financial means and the freedom to start now, versus governments who take a long time and non-profits who depend on funding. We can use business as a force for good.

So, what do I want to do with my life now? Well, it’s my senior year of college. I will be graduating in June with a major in Marketing, minor in Community Development, and a certificate in Social Innovation. I basically want to use the power of business to address environmental and social problems in the world such as overconsumption, waste, and women’s empowerment. I’m most passionate about bringing sustainability into business right now by changing western consumption patterns to more sustainable consumption behavior and moving towards closed-loop business models instead of linear models. As for the future, maybe I will go back to work at Kalu Yala, maybe I’ll go into the Peace Corps, or maybe I will just travel. I don’t know what I will be doing a year from now, and that’s okay. I don’t have to worry or be anxious because God does have plans for me that are far better than I could come up with for myself. Of course I still doubt about what I should do and at times become anxious about the unknown, but the uncertainty is also exciting because there's a world of opportunities open. However, I know for the summer I'll be working at Big Lake Youth Camp as an Environmental Coordinator. I never thought even two years ago this would be something I'd even be interested in. But hey, life never is what we think it will be :)

My last favorite quote is, “I hope that as young kids we can learn to fight for ideas, not grades. So that when we grow up we can work for dreams, not paychecks.”

Oh, and don’t take yourself too seriously.

My Design Thinking team
Photo by Aaron Blaser

Bottom line:

"We as individuals, create the world we live in."