More than just classes

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I’ve started thinking a lot about what has really defined my time here at BYU as I get closer to graduation. To be honest, the greatest value for me in college has come outside of my classes.

For the past three years, I’ve been involved in the Ballard Center — BYU’s center for economic self-reliance and social innovation. I’ve been able to participate in different internships and leadership roles that have shaped what I want to do with my life and the way I look at the world.

The Ballard Center is dedicated to helping students find ways to use their skills, passions and education to change the world and impact the most pressing world problems. In learning about social innovation, I have discovered I am passionate about using business and entrepreneurship to impact people who live in poverty.

Through the Ballard Center, I was able to get a grant to help fund a summer internship in Mexico City. There, I was able to spend three months teaching and working with aspiring entrepreneurs and watching how simple, true principles had the power to change their outlook on life and their success in business.

This experience, along with other things I have learned through Ballard Center programs, has taught me that you don’t have to separate your professional career and education from doing good in the world. Whether you’re passionate about human rights, poverty, clean water, health, education or any other world issue, the Ballard Center can help you get involved while you are in school and prepare you to be a true “Changemaker” throughout your life.

James Oakes
El Cajon, Calif.
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