SCNO Student Perspective: Belinda Chen
Role in SCNO: Director of Programming (Chapter-Level)
I am working for a Medicaid technology startup that is developing both web and mobile-based platforms to a) integrate the many logistics of the Medicaid system into one comprehensive system that will increase provider accountability, efficiency, effectiveness of care, etc, and b) engage different vulnerable Medicaid populations in their own healthcare. (These are two separate goals with different technologies being developed around each).
Favorite SCNO Project
My most memorable experience on an SCNO project would be working with Learning Matters, a Nashville-based educational nonprofit focused on providing equal educational opportunities (via earning assessments and educational support both inside and outside of the classroom) to children with learning disabilities, regardless of their income. The organization was performing incredibly well financially when they came to us (they actually had a significant surplus in their budget) and were certain that there were many students with learning disabilities in dire need of their services, yet they were having trouble finding and reaching such students. Our project focused on developing a multi-faceted marketing strategy to help Learning Matters optimize the number of students they reached. What truly struck a chord with me throughout the project was the magnitude of the impact I could make even just as an individual undergraduate–just by virtue of a lack of resources, staff and technological know-how that comes naturally to university students, our group was able to dramatically increase the Learning Matters outreach. It’s incredibly powerful to think that such an impact can then be compounded with each individual within SCNO and to think of what that effort translates into in terms of positive social impact.
Why join SCNO?
SCNO is unique from any other college experience because it makes you aware of a crossover between two worlds that you otherwise would not think could intersect–the academic/professional and the social impact sector. At least through my experience at Vanderbilt, students are so focused upon doing well in their classes to get a great GPA to get a great consulting job or to get into a great grad school, or upon doing service to put on their resume so they appear to be a charitable person when applying to med school, that they a) forget to act outside of their own self-interest, even when engaging in service, and b) encase themselves in the academic/professional development environment in a way where there is often no longer much intrinsic value in their actions (ex: studying for the sake of curiosity rather than a good grade). SCNO puts you in an environment where you realize just how much of a difference you can make by putting what you’re learning in your finance/econ/marketing classes to use outside of a test, resume or job interview. SCNO holds students accountable for their work in a manner that simultaneously develops them professionally but also teaches them to find intrinsic value in their work and genuine passion in forwarding the community around them.