I met my close friend Molly Day during a seminar on social movements in college. Four years later, we launched our own movement to change the world.
Throughout college, we debated different models of social change as we encountered diverse challenges and inspiring individuals through courses and campus volunteering. After graduating, I signed up to serve in AmeriCorps in Washington, D.C., while Molly traveled abroad to work with a microfinance NGO. We shared successes and frustrations from our respective experiences, from policy roadblocks to resource shortfalls. We envisioned a new model for social change to re-imagine campus volunteerism and help nonprofits and communities tackle their toughest challenges.
With Molly back and my service year wrapping up, we huddled with friends and sketched out campusCATALYST, a program providing social enterprise training for college students and enlisting them in pro bono projects for nonprofits. While I had already accepted a new job, Molly weighed a prestigious offer against the ambitious adventure of building out our budding idea.
With no funding or precedent, we were both uncertain of the prospects for success. Taking it on full time represented a big risk for Molly, but was the only hope for the organization to get off the ground. After much debate and discussion, Molly turned down her job offer, took the plunge as a social entrepreneur, and never looked back.
Molly became the founding Executive Director of campusCATALYST and we worked together over the next several years to build the organization. During her tenure, the organization engaged over 500 students, expanded programs, and provided pro bono support to more than 100 nonprofit organizations. We were regularly inspired by the students who served and the nonprofits that participated in the program, but one story continues to stand out. Sitting in on a training session, I asked a group of college seniors about their career ambitions and aspirations – one woman simply declared, “I want to be like Molly.”
I admire the risk Molly took and the difference she made. I learned that the biggest impact from leaning into your own ambitions may very well be how much it inspires others to lean into theirs. As we consider the challenges confronting our generation, we often find that we are not short on good ideas, but rather, the courage to take risks, follow our passions, and achieve our full potential. Witnessing Molly demonstrate that courage continues to shape my career and fuel my aspiration to make a difference in the world.