Our Alumni are Civically Engaged
*Yet only 26% of Colleges Students and 22% of Millennials volunteer at least once a year
Bike & Build Influenced Alumni
Check out results from the entire study
Data Manager at Heading Home, Boston, MA – ME2SB 2012
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 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.”
Peace Corps Volunteer – P2S 2011
In Dan third year of graduate school, during his pursuit of a Ph.D. in theoretical mathematics, he felt unfulfilled. “I needed to do something more personally engaging…in a totally non-academic way,” he explained. In the summer of 2011, Dan started pedaling in Providence, RI. Sixty nine days and 4,000 miles later he finished his ride cross country in Seattle. That ride changed his life. “I found the confidence to admit I was unhappy and to leave grad school – a terrifying, liberating and existentially unnerving decision,” he said.
While the ride gave him an incredible sense of accomplishment both physically and mentally, Dan described being immersed in the lives of 30 riders, day and night, and the close-knit group that formed, as the most valuable aspect of his ride.
“I rode with riders who were nothing like me, and during Bike & Build you’re stuck with each other. This allowed me to recognize the commonalities I had with others, even if the commonality was just an interest in discussing our differences. Bike & Build challenged my idea of who I thought of as a friend. In people I disagreed with fundamentally, I recognized traits that I respected immensely. That was my take away from the ride – to look for the best in people, to never write off a relationship and to make every friendship I develop into a personal challenge to better myself.”
Since June of 2013, Dan has served as a Peace Corps volunteer in the education sector in The Gambia, West Africa. He currently works with math and science teachers in grades 7-12 to improve teaching methods. Beyond teaching, Dan also educates students about bikes. He supports a local teacher’s bike rental program that eases school commutes. Students who previously walked 15km (over nine miles) a day to school can ride a bike, increasing access to education.
Interestingly, Dan has also discovered the secret to biking across the country. “Step one: start peddling. There is no step two. Except, perhaps, eat as much as you can! Those things in life that sound impossible or difficult just take a bit of commitment.”