Visiting Students of the World and Rally.Org

Brendan Quinlan/ July 15, 2014/ 2014

by Colleen Chung
After our initial career planning session with Patty Leeper, I walked away inspired by the concept of merging my professional aspirations with my interest in gender issues, but as my initial excitement faded I was faced with a critical question: how can I satisfy my interests in social justice in pursuing my career goals? By a stroke of luck (and Amy and Kimberley’s networking efforts), our second site visit was to the Students of the World headquarters to speak with its founder and executive director Courtney Spence and’s Tom Serres. Both Courtney and Tom are social entrepreneurs who have found ways for people to share what they are passionate about and have created innovative ways for people to interact.
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Courtney, a proud Duke alum, founded Students of the World as an undergraduate because she wanted students to utilize their creativity to explore their interests in global advocacy. Students of the World is now a nonprofit organization that allows students to tell the stories of people’s experiences from around the world and to be catalysts for change where such progress is needed most. Courtney’s story is particularly inspiring because she has been where we now stand, as millennials exploring how we will make our mark on the world. It was remarkable to hear Courtney and SOW team members Margaux (also a Duke grad) and Angie (a UNC Chapel Hill alum, but we digress) describe their experiences pursuing their interests in global activism and how effecting social change is now at the foundation of their careers.
Tom spoke to us about his work as the founder and CEO of, an online platform for crowdsourced funding that allows organizations, charities, entrepreneurs, and other groups to publicize and raise money for their causes.  When describing how he and his company have evolved, he explained that knowing the values that you hold are essential to figuring out the path you should take. Because he was focused on the legacy he would leave behind, he structured his career choices around making a company he could be proud of. The idea of putting your values first and using them to guide your professional accomplishments was one that resonated with my own career aspirations. Tom and Courtney served as examples to my classmates and me of how our careers can fulfill more than just our desire for stability and professional growth. Now we are equipped with the inspiration to frame our futures in the broader context of how we can shape our world.Processed with VSCOcam with s1 preset
The required group selfie, featuring Brian Bolze
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