A Message from a Graduate of the Social Enterprise Institute

by Emily Turner

Many of you are just days from grad­u­a­tion in what could be the most ter­ri­fy­ing and excit­ing week of your life. I remem­ber it well, just over four years ago now, feel­ing like I was on the edge of pos­si­bil­ity. The news relayed mes­sages of how lit­tle hope I had in the job mar­ket. Friends were mov­ing home while con­tin­u­ing to search. Like many of you, I had no idea what I was going to do. I applied to well over a hun­dred odd jobs, but truly wanted to con­tribute to the idea that busi­ness could do some good in the world. I was a stu­dent of Pro­fes­sor Den­nis Shaugh­nessy and even trav­elled to the Domini­can Repub­lic on the first Field Study pro­gram

It was through the Social Enter­prise Insti­tute I learned about Root Cap­i­tal, a non­profit social invest­ment fund that pro­vides loans and finan­cial train­ing to small and grow­ing busi­nesses across Latin Amer­ica and Africa. What began as an intern­ship after grad­u­at­ing, Root Cap­i­tal became my full-time work. For the next four years, I gained an immense amount of skills and built last­ing rela­tion­ships with incred­i­bly pas­sion­ate peo­ple. Look­ing back, it involved a lot of good tim­ing and luck. But it is always the things you work the hard­est and smartest at that become your great­est successes.

In Jan­u­ary, my own path brought me back to North­east­ern. It was with great enthu­si­asm that I returned to the Social Enter­prise Insti­tute as the new Asso­ciate Direc­tor of Pro­grams. From my first few months in the new posi­tion, it has become increas­ingly clear how SEI grows stu­dents into pas­sion­ate pro­fes­sion­als.  Many of us have been impacted by SEI in some way, includ­ing myself and even my pre­de­ces­sor and dear friend, Esther Chou who went on to Global Cit­i­zen Year, an orga­ni­za­tion that pro­vides a bridge year abroad for stu­dents after high school.

At this point, thou­sands have shared expe­ri­ences through SEI both in the class­room and out in the field, cre­at­ing a global com­mu­nity of indi­vid­u­als tak­ing action for a bet­ter world. It is my hope to the grad­u­at­ing class of 2014 that you stay pas­sion­ate about the thing you choose to reach for next. That is how you will achieve the great­est impact. And know that you are part of a vast net­work of grad­u­ates, who left a class inspired by our fac­ulty, who stud­ied what you did, who tra­versed the same roads to bateyes across the Domini­can Repub­lic and con­sulted the same micro-businesses across Cape Town. We are with you.