Pursuing Passion, Activism and Sustainability

JULY 19, 2015

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What are you going to do? What’s next? I was inundated with questions as college graduation neared.

My answer was clear, yet never seemed to suffice for others. I had been working since age thirteen, when I co-founded my non-profit, Turning Green, though it did not feel like “work” – and I never once intended it to become a full-time job. Our fun, informative, actionable campaigns focused on public and environmental health, ranging from personal care to apparel, school campuses to food, prom to dorm. Once we got started, the energy, enthusiasm, and interest from all propelled us to continue and to grow.

The mandate was clear: young people were eager to learn, take action, and move the needle in a positive direction on relevant issues. And the world of environmental education, advocacy, and social good captivated me; by the time I graduated high school, it was inextricable to my identity, becoming even more paramount throughout college.

Still, others thought I had to get “serious,” choose a career, change directions and start “real life.” Why? I had spent eight years building a movement that I believed in wholeheartedly, gaining unrivaled professional insight, and forging meaningful connections with industry leaders-turned-mentors.

I used my learnings to begin speaking and consulting about millennials and sustainability, an organic extension of my in-depth work with Turning Green, personal passions, and knowledge as a member of my generation. A teenage or twenty-something activist and digital native sharing her truth has real world value!

After graduating, I stepped into a role as sustainability and purpose consultant, gaining fascinating and vital experience in the business world, which often can affect change at a scale larger than the non-profit sector and a speed more rapid than government. I firmly believe in its power to achieve sweeping global transformation, however I quickly realized that my heart lies in hands-on interactions with students, kids, young people – a demographic that is hungry for knowledge, receptive to my messaging, and still willing to shift. I am committed to pursue that which ignites a spark within me, channeling my energy into raising awareness about being the change; about safer, healthier, more just and sustainable choices for individuals, schools, business, communities, our world; about educating, inspiring, and mobilizing youth.

My mother raised me to be an eternal optimist, but has always reminded me of the need for intent and disciplined action. Dream and DO has long been our motto, for one must follow through with the real work. “What would you do if you knew you could not fail?” That question propels me forward each day. And I have an answer, albeit ever-evolving: to work directly with young people around environmental education, youth leadership, conscious lifestyle, and citizen activism.

I now wake up with passion, purpose, and the resolve to make that a reality.

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1 COMMENT

  • Career Contessa 2 years ago

    Thanks for sharing this inspiring piece, Erin. It can be difficult to find a job after college that fits your passion but also pays the bills. You were fortunate to have the skills and background to make your dream a reality, and your tenacity to never gave up really paid off in the end. For other millennials out there who have a clear direction, but are uncertain how to get there or how to make their passion project a full-time job, it can be frustrating and take a lot of time. What is important to remember is that passion projects can happen in the form of freelance work, volunteering, and after-hours projects before they occupy your 9-5 slot. Keep your drive and your focus and you will find a way to bring your passion alive every day.