Kara Gordon, class of 2019, is an Impact Ambassador in the Center for Social Value Creation at the University of Maryland's Robert H. Smith School of Business. She recently talked with undergraduate student Liza Curcio-Rudy about her experience as an Impact Ambassador, her professional interests, and internship opportunity with the Aspen Network of Development.
Currently a junior at the University of Maryland’s Robert H. Smith School of Business, Liza Curcio is pursuing a bachelor’s degree in finance with a minor in global poverty. This past fall, she explored her professional interests by interning with the Aspen Network of Development Entrepreneurs (ANDE). At ANDE, Liza was able to help bring together capacity developers, funders, corporations, educators, and other sector experts in order to maximize their abilities to bring about positive change.
More recently, Liza has taken on a new role as an intern at Illumen Capital, an impact private equity fund dedicated to mitigating implicit bias in financial markets. Of the $36 trillion assets under management in North America, only 1.1 percent are managed by women and people of color, Illumen Capital seeks to change this.
From an early age, Liza began to develop an understanding of her passions. In fourth grade, Liza’s neighbor started a “Young Activists Club” at her elementary school. Although she may not have known what an activist was at the time, through the club she was able to learn about social and environmental issues, advocate for policy change, and witness the expansion of the club to other schools. This formative experience widened her network of inspiring role models who have continued to this day to encourage her to continue to question her opinions and foster interests that bring about positive change.
In high school, Liza was introduced to the concept of social entrepreneurship by a friend interning at Hungry Harvest. Hungry Harvest is a for-profit company that seeks to eliminate food waste by redistributing “ugly” produce, which otherwise would have been thrown away, to consumers. The founder of Hungry Harvest is former Social Innovation Fellow, a Smith School of Business alumnus, and will be a speaker at the 10th Annual Social Enterprise Symposium, set to take place in March 2018.
These foundational experiences gave Liza the inspiration to become involved with the Center for Social Value Creation (CSVC) at the Robert H. Smith School of Business and soon after joined the Social Innovation Fellow program, which is one of the programs under the CSVC umbrella.
“It was an experience that seemed awesome, but hard to find. As a Social Innovations Fellow I learned that social impact doesn't need to be impractical. After this program, I wanted to get further involved with CSVC as an Impact Ambassador, educating others about this wonderful opportunity,” Liza said.
As an Impact Ambassador with CSVC, Liza helps students see that there are so many opportunities to align their professional development with positive impact.
“Surround yourself with the right people – seek out people who not only inspire you to pursue your passions, but also who encourage you to reflect on your experiences and come out of each with a better understanding of how your interests and skills can align in your career path,” Liza recommended.
Liza has found some of her most meaningful experiences by saying “YES.” With the University of Maryland located so close to Washington, D.C., she has been able to explore so many opportunities and she encourages other Terps to take advantage of the resources available and do as much as they can.
In closing, Liza shared one final piece of advice that has allowed her to shape such a meaningful college career.
“Show gratitude – none of us would be where we are alone, and I certainly wouldn’t even be close. Huge shout out to the many extraordinary people who have supported me thus far. You mean the world to me!”
For more information about the Center for Social Value Creation, visit www.rhsmith.umd.edu/svc.
For more information about the undergraduate program at Smith, visit www.rhsmith.umd.edu/undergrad.