The change-makers of the world

November 20, 2009

By hammersmith

As an undergraduate at the University of Arizona, Flinn Scholar Michelle Yang (’99) majored in international studies, interned with the U.S. State Department in South Korea, and founded a program offering mentorship to children adopted to the United States from China. In 2005, when she was working for Tucson-based Commonwealth Adoptions International Inc., she was named by the Tucson YWCA as one of 13 “Women on the Move.”

Here are some of Michelle’s reflections on what she has been doing since.

Michelle Yang, a 1999 Flinn Scholar, recently completed her MBA at the University of WashingtonIt’s been ten years since we were announced as the Flinn Class of 1999.

We were told to be the newsmakers of tomorrow, the change-makers of the world.

I look at my peers and I’m so proud. Not only proud of the milestones we have reached, but of the people we have grown into. We’ve seen each other at our worst and our best. We’ve known and felt each others’ heartbreaks, failures, and successes.

Upon graduating from the University of Arizona with dreams of becoming a Foreign Service officer, I worked in international adoption for three years as a program director for adoptions from Taiwan and as a communications director. After completing a stint at the US Embassy in Seoul, Korea, my dreams evolved into nonprofit management.

I moved to Seattle to get my MBA from the Foster School of Business at the University of Washington, emphasizing in nonprofit management and taking electives from the School of Social Work.

During my years at UW, I led a team in the Global Social Entrepreneurship Competition. Our project sought to raise funds for the Rwanda Girls Initiative, where I worked with Washington community leaders to build a secondary school for girls in a region of Rwanda especially hard hit by the genocide. The Gashora Girls Academy is now in construction stage with the community center to be completed in January 2010.

I am now the Fund Development and Alumnae Relations Managers at the Girl Scouts of Western Washington. I’ve been in my current role for almost four months now. I love knowing that every day, I am advocating for girls and working to instill in them a strong sense of confidence and leadership.

Thinking of my fellow Flinn Scholars, I recognize that our stories and dreams may be different, but our shared experiences abroad and in school have connected us and shaped us in such a unique way. The Flinn Foundation has played a pivotal role in who I am today.