The other day we spent time reflecting on the course of the semester during one of our class sessions. When asked how our view of philanthropy Rachel Welchhad changed over the course of the semester, I immediately thought about a somewhat life-changing decision I had made.

A couple of weeks ago I made the decision to drop finance as a major. Along with this, I have also decided that I want to go to law school. I think taking this class and participating in all the discussions played a crucial role in my decision. There was one class in particular where we watched a TED Talk where the question was posed, “Is it more valuable to be an aid worker or – if you have the skills – employ five other aid workers?” I spent quite a bit of time discussing this question with friends outside of class and reflecting on my answer. My thoughts centered on the idea of maximizing impact versus finding a career that makes me happy. There is definitely a continuous spectrum on which we all fall.

As a finance major I would most likely end up in a field helping people understand how and where to invest their money. This would definitely be a high-profile career that could help me earn enough money to probably employee more than five aid workers, but that did not motivate or excite me about the future. Every time I went to my finance classes I felt more and more selfish and less and less like myself. I am not saying that a career in finance is a selfish career – it is definitely necessary and a noble calling to manage money well – but for me I could not come to terms with spending my life telling people or companies how to make more money.

So, came the question: If I am so unhappy, why am I choosing to invest my time in this? I was dreading going to class, and even opening my textbook. For someone who has always loved school and studying, it was a foreign concept. I needed to find that spark again.

I sat down with a local attorney in late February. He talked about doing something new every day, getting to teach and educate people, and most of all being a servant to his clients. He was the voice for so many, and loved every minute of it. For me it was the perfect combination of all that I had been searching for in a career. The passion and joy that he expressed was overflowing and contagious. I knew after meeting with him what I needed to do.

That next week I met with my advisor, and then dropped financ
e, picked up an LSAT course, and began my journey to becoming a lawyer. At the beginning of the semester if I had been asked how I would give back after college, you would have probably heard an answer about tithing 10 percent and maybe serving on a board. This answer views giving as tangible actions. This answer also misses the passion I now have.

I now believe giving should not be a single, separate element of our life. It is not simply a checklist. It should be something we get to practice every day, in any capacity. For me, this means one day serving one client at a time to the best of my ability. I do not need to hire five people to serve as aid workers when I have the passion and drive to make a change myself. Everyone has different skills and talents, but we must align them with what we are passionate about.

The argument that Peter Singer gave in the TED Talk leaves out the key factor in success: passion. You cannot be motivated without it. Although I could have been successful in a financial field, I lacked the passion to motivate me to accomplish it. Finding and pursuing our passions is what makes giving not a single action, but rather a lifestyle.

by Rachel Welch ’17