Martin Luther King Jr. said, “All labor that uplifts humanity has dignity and importance and should be undertaken with painstaking excellence.” Giving back to the world is a personal and internal quest, a combination of passion, ability and resources. First you must raise yourself up, then bring your community with you. Select a degree or vocational certification that gives you the opportunity to help your fellow man while achieving King’s goal of painstaking excellence, so you can make the world a better place for future generations.
Give to Yourself
The Rainforest Alliance put out a public service video in 2012 that shows a man quitting his job and leaving his wife and child to run off to save the rainforest. The man realizes he is ill-equipped to handle the harsh nature of this type of advocacy and gets attacked by the very wildlife he is trying to save. The video asks people to use the successes they have already gained and buy products that are rainforest-friendly.
Giving to yourself is very different from taking from others. Choose a career path you love and focus on your holistic betterment, and you’ve already taken that first step to creating a better world. When selecting a degree program, try not to look at the money you will make or focus on the student loans you’ll need; instead, assess your ability to use that degree to give back to the people and places that are important to you.
Be the Best and Brightest
A recent survey by UCLA’s Graduate School of Education and Information Studies found that almost three-quarters of students said they went to college to make more money. Yes, a degree will bring up your earning potential, but it does much more: It enables you to be the hero you are looking for. One mantra of the professional do-gooder is, If it is to be, it is up to me. Your choice of a degree lets you lift up humanity with your excellence.
Philanthropic and Charitable University Programs
There are many areas you can focus on when choosing a life of service. Choose a path you are passionate about. If you are interested in community development, Illinois State University’s Stevenson Center for Community and Economic Development can prepare you for a career with organizations like the American Red Cross, Action Against Hunger and NeighborWorks to impact communities on a local or global scale.
For more international work, Clark University has an International Development, Community and Environment program that offers concentrations in international development or environmental science and policy. Graduates can work across the globe to promote social change and help the environment in developing countries.
Well-known organizations like the Peace Corps often partners with universities to offer immersion programs to students. The Arizona State University’s School of Sustainability offers a Master’s International Peace Corps program that integrates international development with graduate studies. Students gain valuable field experience while earning academic credit.
Developing a society you want to live in begins with you and your talents. If you are searching for an alternative educational path, online schools like Penn Foster have a range of career degrees and certificates that you can use to make an environmental impact in your local community. It’s obvious you can get a degree or a vocational certificate that will help you make money, but a well thought-out career path enables the compassionate person to make a change in the world. Let ability follow passion.
Scholarships and Tuition Programs
For students who need financial aid, many charitable organizations offer tuition matching or scholarships for certain degrees and programs. Some organizations will award tuition money for volunteers or workers who served specific programs. For example, the Segal AmeriCorps Education Award is a “post-service benefit” students can received by completing a specified term of national service in an AmeriCorps program.
The Environmental Protection Agency is one of many employers that offer student loan reimbursement to employees who dedicate more than three years to service at the company. They also offer tuition assistance for employees who seek higher education and other relevant classes.