Alum of the Week
Jesse Sullivan, (Fall‘05)
Founder & CEO of a social enterprise
Do it. If you are wondering whether you should do the Casa program or not, the answer is YES! I’ve been blessed to attend some of the best programs in the world. After the Casa I got my Master’s at the #1 ranked Social Science program in the world at Oxford. Later, I got my MBA at the #1 ranked business school in the world at Stanford. And you know what... neither of them came close to transforming me and developing me the way that the Casa did in my semester abroad in El Salvador.
At the Casa I learned to see the world from below. The world view we get sitting at elite universities in comfortable air conditioned buildings among the global 1%, is necessarily a view from the top down. When you are sweating at your praxis site, standing on a trash strewn street, holding a child dying of starvation, then you and your worldview will never again be the same. As Jon Sobrino said, you don’t know poverty until you smell it. The Casa gave me the chance to immerse myself in the lives and relationships of those whom Jesus refers to as “the least among us” in an intense and meaningful way.
At the Casa, I learned that solidarity and empathetically sharing in the lives of those most in need can be the most life giving of experiences. Anyone can travel to the developing world, but the invaluable thing the Casa provides is a framework, a perceptual lens, and a community that can help a person fully integrate their experiences into a meaningful and coherent experience of self-discovery.
My experience at the Casa launched me on a new career path. I went there hoping to be a doctor and left realizing that I wanted to fix social, political, and economic ills rather than medical ones. My Casa experience motivated me to seek out solidarity in some of the most challenging places on earth - from the tent cities of Haiti to the mud walled huts of Afghanistan - and advise Ambassadors, Generals, royalty, and CEOs on strategic decision-making. I’m currently starting my own company to tackle extreme poverty by backing the best entrepreneurs in the least developed countries. Much of what I have learned about the world I owe to the Casa program, but even more importantly, it helped me to become the person I wanted to become.
Check out Jesse's video: Choose Life Over Luxury