How did you discover your passion for what you do?

I discovered the passion for what I do early on, as it has always been a part of my identity. I’m a first generation American, with parents who both immigrated from Germany at the age of 18. Growing up, I heard many stories from my parents of the difficulties that immigrants have, specifically from my father. Not only did he move to a foreign country, but he spent the majority of his childhood as a refugee and then an orphan. He grew up in Germany during World War II and spent a year living on a freight train with nowhere to go during for a year. He often shared the stories of the dying children that he lived with and how fortunate he and his family where to have found a farmer who decided to help and take them in. After settling in southern Germany, both of my father’s parents died, making him an orphan at the age of 8. He eventually found his way to the United States. Hearing these stories, I grew up always fighting for the “other.” I knew that difficult circumstances happen to people and that shapes their view of the world as well as some of their actions. My dad could have taken a different path in his life, but soccer drove him to opportunity. I wanted to find what those various opportunities are for others and how can we best help them.

 

Who is your mentor, and how did he/she shape your career?

I consider my late father to be my mentor. He continuously taught me about a strong work ethic, but also to balance that with understanding and compassion for others. The many life lessons, that he had throughout his life, he passed along to me. It made me have a better sense of understanding of my purpose and also the drive to help others, seeing the dignity and worth of everyone. He strongly implemented my sense of conviction, which has shaped my career and the services that I provide for others.

 

How do you continue to grow and be a lifelong learner?

I operate from a “knowledge is power” philosophy which helps me continue to be a lifelong learner. I give myself time to reflect and build my self-awareness of the things that I don’t know, even if it means I need to step outside of my comfort zone. I challenge myself to be comfortable being uncomfortable so that I can engage in difficult conversations and make decisions. This process is never-ending. There’s so much that we all can learn!

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