Hannah Allen | 2017 TFC Summer Fellow
Could you briefly share your academic and professional background?
I graduated from Wheaton College (MA) in 2012 with a B.A in religious studies. Throughout my time at Wheaton I became interested in international education which led me to accept a Fulbright teaching grant to Bulgaria. While in Bulgaria I co-founded an education non-profit which develops speech and debate programming around the country. I stayed to teach full-time at the American College of Sofia while acting as director of finance for the NGO. I left in 2015 to pursue a Masters in Public Policy Peabody College, Vanderbilt.
What was the path that led you to get involved with the TFC?
I discovered Project Pyramid while applying to Vanderbilt and wanted to get involved as soon as I got to campus. Along the way, I did a short project with the Social Enterprise Consulting club. I really enjoyed being around the energy and innovation over at Owen, particularly around the intersection of poverty alleviation and innovation.
How was your experience as a TFC fellow this summer? Please share some details regarding the project you were working on.
As a public policy student, I wanted my summer experience to be something different from what I had been learning throughout the academic year. I really loved project pyramid and became more interested in this idea of ethical development and service trips but felt it was so different from what was happening in the church mission communities I grew up in. If we’re studying, learning and implementing values of social enterprise to alleviate poverty, why is the service and mission trip community so distant from these principals? Through the Fellows program I was able to dive deep into the answers to that question through a research and consulting trip to Guatemala. I spent three weeks meeting with NGO’s, start-ups and missionaries to learn about what the desires are for the mission organizations and the needs are of the NGO’s and businesses doing development work. I gained skills in consulting work, impact evaluation and field research.
What advice would you give to people who hope to pursue a TFC fellowship?
Whatever change you wish to seek, share it with the TFC. Don’t just ignore those burning questions, follow them. The TFC might not be able to give you the answers, but they will provide you with the skills, the resources and the imagination to uncover even more questions that will eventually leading you down a path where life’s work and meaning meet.