After graduating college in 2012, Karla was unsure of the career she wanted. What she did know was that she was curious about travel and about what life had in store. Days after graduation, Karla jumped on her bike and began the longest ride of her life.
“I struggled a lot during the first couple of weeks,” Karla said when describing her Bike & Build ride. “Luckily, everyone on the trip had a ‘no one gets left behind’ attitude. The support I received was incredibly encouraging.”
The opportunity to build homes along the way was what inspired Karla to ride with Bike & Build. She was already involved with Habitat for Humanity and had developed an intense passion for affordable housing.
During the trip, Karla met many minorities and immigrants receiving homes. As a native of Mexico, and growing up in a country with a view that everybody in the U.S. had wealth, the experience was eye-opening. She said, “It was an enriching experience to learn that there were less fortunate people, and the need for social justice, everywhere. I felt empowered to help homeowners who also spoke Spanish and were very much like me.”
Through conversations with people during her Bike & Build ride, Karla realized she needed to make one of her loves – affordable housing – her life’s work. Today, she is the data manager at Heading Home, a non-profit organization in Boston working to end homelessness for good. Karla uses her knowledge of science and economics to shape programs to support families and individuals dealing with homelessness.
“I’m passionate not only about affordable housing but also about what happens after people get a new home,” she explained. “After Bike & Build, I got even more involved in the ‘after’. That trip increased my curiosity about affordable housing in millions of ways.”