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Discovering New Oceans: The Personal + Professional Growth of Vanessa

Tell us about a time, period or event that sparked significant personal or professional growth.

Becoming a teacher through Teach for America (TFA) was the most difficult challenge I have ever faced. When I joined TFA in 2013, I had zero teaching experience and an extremely sheltered understanding of poverty and systemic racism.

What is the biggest lesson you learned through this experience?

Despite being the most challenging period of my life, teaching also taught me countless lessons about myself. It taught me I could fall on my face and get up the next day learning from my mistakes. It made me realize that strength is transferable. It stretched me to my breaking point and showed me I could go further. I wouldn’t trade that experience for the world!

How did this experience change the course of your life, your career or your outlook?

The hilarious thing is that had I not started studying business and realized how callous it felt, I would never have joined Teach for America. And, had I never joined Teach for America, I would have never realized how absolutely pivotal business is to solving the world’s most pressing social challenges! From my TFA experience I understand how important it is to combine the social and business sectors and hope to spend my life blurring the lines.

If you could go back in time and give one piece of advice to your younger self, what would it be?

Everything happens for a reason. It’s that simple. You might question whether the path you are on is leading you in the right direction, but every experience I have had so far (positive and negative) has prepared me for the challenges I am facing today.

What are some words of wisdom that you would offer students exploring the possibility of an immersive experience?

Immersive experiences have been what have shaped me into the person I am today, and I am so grateful for the immersive experiences I have had throughout my education and career. When you go into an interview, no one will ask you about a specific concept you learned in a class – they will ask you about your experience and how it applies to their situation. If you don’t have translatable experience, it’s much more difficult to explain your credentials for future positions.

What is your favorite travel quote (or general life quote)?

“Man cannot discover new oceans unless he has the courage to lose sight of the shore.” – Andre Gide

What's next? How do you plan to remain dedicated to growth in your job or personal life in 2019?

In 2019 I will be graduating from the Carey Business School with specializations in both entrepreneurship and marketing but it will not be my last year of learning. I will continue seeking opportunities to push myself and grow my skill sets. I find I can do this best through volunteering and serving others. That’s why I love being part of organizations like Business Volunteers Maryland. I look forward to what the rest of 2019 has to offer!

Vanessa Vaughn completed her Bachelor's degree in supply chain management from The University of Texas at Austin. Before joining the Carey Business School as a 2019 GMBA Candidate, Vanessa worked as a Teach for America middle school teacher as well as a Family Support Coordinator for Habitat for Humanity of Greater Baton Rouge. During her time at Carey, Vanessa has participated in the Carey Business School Net Impact Chapter, Business of Social Innovation Fellowship, Business Volunteers Maryland GIVE Fellowship, and Education Pioneers Fellowship.

Tips, tales + takeaways from our favorite go-getters

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