Impact At Scale

The Beeck Center engages global leaders to drive social change at scale.

The NextGen Leadership Series: Devika Kumar

April 26, 2017 |The NextGen Leadership Series, GU Impacts Profile: Devika Kumar

Interview by Ali Walton, Beeck Communications Analyst

Devika Kumar is a freshman in the College studying Linguistics and Computer Science with a minor in Business Administration. This summer, she’s heading to Atlanta, Georgia to work for the Center for Civic Innovation. Check out our conversation with her!

What are you most excited about for in Atlanta?

This summer, I will be interning at the Civic Center for Innovation (CCI) as a GU Impacts Fellow. The CCI is a hub for social entrepreneurs in the Atlanta area and serves as an incubator for entrepreneurs of all levels. The CCI’s website talks about how Atlanta is an entrepreneurial city, but that entrepreneurs have difficulty finding operational guidance, funding, and a supportive environment they need to grow. The mission of the CCI is to “push Atlanta to be a smart, equitable, and engaged city by investing in community-driven ideas, supporting social enterprises, and engaging people in dialogue and action.”

While I don’t know all of the details of the work I will be doing, I do know that I will be at the core of social innovation, surrounded by social entrepreneurs who want to do good things for the world. As an intern, I will be able to converse with and assist these entrepreneurs while learning their stories. I am really excited to surround myself with dreamers who desire to improve the world- so much inspiration.

In addition to all that excitement, Atlanta is a city rich in history and culture, a blend of countryside and city- a kind of “melting pot” of the south. I’ve spent most of my life in the Northeast (Branchburg, NJ) and have loved every opportunity I have had to learn about other cultures through travel. But I have never spent much time in the South and have always been curious to see what it would be like to live there. My favorite genre of music is country, so I feel this gravitational force pulling me to spend some time in Atlanta. Of course, I am also genuinely interested in the program specifics for the Center for Civic Innovation, as I feel my passion and experience match the description well. This summer, I would love the opportunity to live in a refreshing city and work with passionate people to help the Center for Civic Innovation enrich their surrounding community.

Wow that was a great answer. Atlanta will be so much fun! The work you’ll be doing is very social impact based. What does that mean to you?

My dad always says that success is not about money or titles or degrees; rather, it is all about how many people are better off because you lived. Social impact means to me, servant leadership- prioritizing the needs of others over my own to truly serve the people. So, I constantly search for opportunities to do meaningful service work while also learning life skills.
At Georgetown, I managed to find such a combination at the Hilltop Microfinance Initiative, a student-run nonprofit organization that distributes small business loans to low-income entrepreneurs in the DMV area. As part of the Client Recruitment team, I attend events to meet clients face-to-face and get the opportunity to see how my work impacts their lives. At the same time, I learn about the business behind our important social work.

How do you hope to grow through GU Impacts, and why did you decide to apply?

I hope to gain independence, life skills, and a broader perspective of the world around me.

As an undeclared student in the college, I am constantly looking to try everything so I can see what I like best. I’m undeclared because I am interested in so many things, and I’m thinking of making my own major in machine learning and language processing and minoring in business administration. I believe that the next four (now three) years should be an intellectual adventure of risk-taking, testing my academic, social, and physical capabilities, and growing to become a leader in my yet-to-be-found passion. While I haven’t yet pinpointed that exact passion, I’d say that so far, my greatest passion has been people and my secondary passion, interdisciplinary studies, which is why, in part, Atlanta was so appealing to me.

It sounds like you’re already pretty involved at Georgetown. What do you think makes GU Impacts different from other service programs offered?

The fellowship program is so wholesome- the Beeck Center and Matt Fortier, GU Impacts Coordinator, do an excellent job of preparing us before our internship and helping us reflect afterwards. We participate in true social impact work because we acknowledge the problems with the “third world is not your classroom” mindset.
And, I think it’s important to surround myself with people who push me to be the best me- and my fellow fellows definitely do and will continue to do so.

Fun questions, what’s your favorite quote?

“Slow and steady might win the race, but fast and steady wins too.” – Unknown

And finally, what are you currently reading?

I’m currently reading a book called “White Trash: The 400-Year Untold History of Class in America” by Nancy Isenburg

*This is a part of our series GU Impacts Fellows, The NextGen Leadership Series

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