The I&E certificate gave a different spin on the topics I learned about as part of my Economics major. While Economics (finance) courses gave me the technical background necessary for a future career in finance and investing, the Innovation & Entrepreneurship certificate forced me to put those topics into perspective; rather than viewing my Economics major as a means to an end (finding a well paying corporate job and walking down a “set path”), I have been motivated to go beyond and to constantly challenge the status quo.
However, the I&E certificate has influenced my experience at Duke through more than just class and internship work. I have also gained many friends through various group projects across different courses that encouraged hands-on learning and collaboration, especially in my Social Innovation Practicum and Capstone courses. By interacting with peers in the I&E program, I have also been inspired to work harder to launch my own venture. The I&E program introduced me to the Duke entrepreneurship living community, The Cube, which has become one of my most meaningful and influential circle of friends. Since everyone is either working on his/her own venture or working part-time at a startup, I have constantly been an environment where novel ideas are thrown around and creativity is flowing, positively influencing me to be more creative.
The certificate has especially influenced me as a learner. Whenever I read about something in the news, hear about a problem in conversation, or even learn about challenges present in Economics or medicine (health economics and the increasing cost of treatment, for example), I automatically think about ways we can tackle those problems or solutions that could be introduced. I&E has pushed me to step out of my comfort zone and given me the confidence to challenge myself further and to think outside of the box. The semester after enrolling in Social Innovation (Fall 2015), I signed up to participate in the Duke Winter Forum 2016, in which the theme was a Madagascar Social Innovation Challenge. Using the knowledge I gained from my Social Innovation class and learning more through personal research, I worked with my team members to propose the healthcare solution of “MedEx (Medical Express)”, a system in which donated medication could be transported to areas with poor infrastructure via drones. Our proposal of “MedEx” not only won the Healthcare Track first place award, we also received the People’s Choice Award and were given $1000 to advance our idea. This was just one of the positive experiences I have encountered since pursuing the I&E certificate.
Lastly, the I&E certificate has contributed to my growth and self-understanding. Without the I&E certificate, I would have never enrolled in Social Innovation and discovered the path of social entrepreneurship. I am thankful to have been introduced to this field, as I now aspire to pursue a career in impact investing, combining my background in finance and the knowledge I have gained through my I&E endeavors.