By Kim Izar
As a first-generation U.S. citizen, I was always reminded by my mother, an immigrant from the Philippines, how essential it was that my brother and I receive a quality education. The power of education was something that my family had always stressed, often repeating that it was the “key to opportunity.” I was fortunate to find myself at Northeastern University pursuing many opportunities that some of my relatives only dreamt of. I quickly submerged myself in various volunteer opportunities, but I always felt like I had two very conflicting identities: the ‘do-gooder’ many of my friends knew me as and the business student who was less empathetic and more cut-throat. About halfway through my Northeastern career, I discovered how to combine these personas. The answer came in the form of the Social Enterprise Institute (SEI).
During my third year, I was introduced to social entrepreneurship after taking ENTR 2206 (Global Social Entrepreneurship) with Professor Shaughnessy. I was fascinated by the possibility of using business for social good and the diverse group of social enterprises we explored. Evaluating the characteristics of high-impact social enterprises was, without a doubt, the highlight of my fall semester, and I knew as the year wrapped up, I was strongly considering the social enterprise space as a career field.
The Field Research Program in South Africa solidified my interest in social entrepreneurship as a potential career. In July 2015, I participated in the Dialogue of Civilizations to South Africa, an eye-opening experience to the many hardships that those in poverty are forced to face. However, what struck me the most was the lack of educational opportunities that children and young adults were essentially robbed of at birth. I remember boarding the plane back to America, with a very heavy heart and a readiness to move closer to a world where the circumstances you are born into do not determine your life’s outcomes.
My experiences with SEI have given the term ‘business’ a refreshing facelift, and I am excited and proud to take the lessons I’ve learned beyond the classroom in my new role at Room to Read as a Communications Assistant. Room to Read is a global organization that focuses on literacy and gender equality in education to create deep, systemic transformation within schools in low-income countries. In collaboration with local communities, partner organizations, and governments, Room to Read is creating a world where all children have access to a high-quality education.
There’s no denying that this type of work is important, and I’m grateful that I go into the office every day knowing that my work leads to more educated students, families, and communities. In my position, I support our Global Business Development team on chapter communication and donor cultivation initiatives and it’s unbelievable to see the skillset SEI has instilled in me – critical thinking, a hard work ethic, and a unique perspective towards achieving global change – all directly impact my professional performance. I look forward to playing my part in shaping a world where many opportunities are not just dreams but a reality.