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To Change the World, Ignore Your Parents

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"To Change the World, Ignore Your Parents" isn't the typical graduation speech advice. For one thing, that can be tough advice to take.

As the iOnPoverty website acknowledges, many students "struggle between tradition and the unknown." Between loyalty to parents and loyalty to self. Between a challenging job market and challenging the status quo.

For Jerry Hildebrand his moment of decision came after college graduation -- some 50 years ago. First in his family to go to college, paid for by parents of humble and modest means, Jerry resisted their "tremendous pressure" to pursue a conventional career and, instead, opted to join the very first Peace Corps cohort.

Today the Director of the University of the Pacific's Global Center for Social Entrepreneurship tells his students, "dare yourself to take a risk." As he himself proclaimed 50 years ago, "Mom, I am going to be a pioneer."

Asking for an assignment to the most remote place possible, he lived for two years in a rural Peruvian village without running water, no electricity and five hours from the nearest telephone. He launched his social change career, as you can kick start yours, by living and experiencing the harsh reality of poverty, a poverty that still shames us today:
A majority of the 2.6 billion people surviving on less than $2 per day live in remote rural areas.
In Latin America, the richest 1 percent receives 400 times more income than the poorest 1 percent.

At an early age, he learned that good intentions and commendable attributes aren't enough. Students come to him all the time to say, "I am ambitious, I'm a hard worker, I'm personable" to which he replies, "What is your tangible skill set -- what do you know that will be useful in a rural village?"

To find the perfect job and hone his skills, Jerry created his own gap year ("I did not really know what I wanted to do"):

He cautions, "You can do anything, but there is a discipline. There are steps to doing anything you want to do. Time management is one of the toughest things for university students... one of the things they do worst. Follow through and attention to details are important... "

"We all love innovative ideas. I like innovative ideas that are [financially] sustainable because they will have long-lasting impact... making a thing work and last."

"Making a thing work and last." Hildebrand's pioneering legacy! Why not yours too? Why not do something that makes your parents really, really proud?