At the top of my bucket list since I was a child was going on a safari in Africa. I had the opportunity to make my way to South Africa after graduating college a few years ago. Sitting on a safari truck and driving around Kruger National Park while observing the Big 5 animals was incredible and definitely one of my favorite memories in my travels thus far.
What is your favorite travel memory?
How have you changed/grown since working for your current company?
A few days after graduating from the University of Miami, I started working for BLUE Missions. I had graduated Pre-Med with a degree in Exercise Physiology, but it was the non-profit sector where my passion truly lied.
At the time, BLUE Missions was still a grassroots organization with a handful of volunteers and partnerships. I became the first employee we would hire to take us to the next level. Throughout the years, I have really grown into my position. I've become a better leader, role model, and mentor to our volunteers. Although I didn't have much experience in non-profits or how to grow an organization, I have learned that, when you are really fighting for something you believe in and others around you can see that and they join you, you can really accomplish your mission.
I am excited to continue to guide us as we grow the number of water and sanitation projects we are building, as well as increase the number of volunteers that we take with us on these projects.
What is the best story you've heard from a return student?
I've worked with hundreds of participants throughout the years and their experiences and stories with our organization always give me goosebumps. BLUE Missions was started to create a generation of global citizens who will go out and tackle the problems that exist in our world. We have an intern who has volunteered with us every year since 2013. She will be graduating this May from college and, before entering law school, she decided that she wanted to take a gap year and work with us in the field.
As an organization, you know you are doing something right when your volunteers return back year after year. We are excited to work with her and see what new ideas she can bring to our team to make our projects and trip experiences better.
If you could go on any program that your company offers, which one would you choose and why?
I believe that everyone, at least once in their lifetime, needs to go on an immersion service trip. Although I have been on all of the programs we offer multiple times, I would still choose to participate on one of our water or sanitation service trips. When you live with a community for 8 days and you wake up with the roosters, work alongside of the community members to construct their project, and spend evenings playing dominos and listening to bachata, you really get a new perspective on life.
You quickly learn that the things that you have been stressing out about back at home shouldn't be your main priority, and happiness doesn't come from having everything. Also, working together with the locals to assist in the construction of a community-led project is a great thing to be a part of. By the end of the trip, you are no longer a stranger. You are apart of the community and their families.
I would also recommend our Pico Duarte Trek. If you are an adventure junkie, love hiking or just being outdoors, this trek up Pico Duarte is the program for you.
What makes your company unique? When were you especially proud of your team?
BLUE Missions is unique in that as part of our dual mission to connect rural communities to clean water and sanitation is also our mission to cultivate a generation of global citizens through serve-driven travel. We are not just immersing our volunteers into a community for a few hours to learn from the locals. We are living and working hand in hand with these communities and our employees on the ground to make clean water and sanitation a reality in just 8 days. Our volunteers do not get bused in from hotels in the city: they sleep in the local schools or churches on cots and are part of the everyday hustle and bustle within the community.
At the end of every year, we gather all of our employees from the US and the Dominican Republic for a nice little vacation after a full year of hard work and success. Watching everyone spend time together and enjoy each others company is always one of my favorite moments of the trip. Even though we may not live in the same city or country and we may not see each other every day, when we are united, it's a big family reunion that exudes so much love and passion for each other and for our organization.
What do you believe to be the biggest factor in being a successful company?
The biggest factor is always staying true to yourself and being authentic. When everything you do is with the right intentions, transparent, sustainable, organized and purpose driven, you will succeed. You must be authentic and follow your mission every single day. The day that you get side tracked or do something that goes against your mission, is the day you are not being true to yourself and could cause rifts within your organization.