SCNO Student Perspective: Belinda Chen

 Current SCNO Student Consultant Belinda Chen 
School: Vanderbilt University

Role in SCNO: Director of Programming (Chapter-Level)

Post-Grad Plans

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.

Alumni Perspective: Mike Gallagher

 SCNO Alumnus Michael Gallagher 
School: Michigan State University (Graduated in 2008)

SCNO Experience: On MSU’s SCNO board and helped build SCNO into an international organization

Fun Fact: The MSU chapter was the only SCNO chapter when Mike joined

Favorite experience with SCNO

My favorite SCNO experience was at our second national conference in Nashville. It really sank in with me that we had built an organization that spanned the country and had huge potential for future growth!


What are you up to now?

I’m currently an MBA candidate at Tuck and will be going to New York this summer to work at a hedge fund. My time in SCNO provided me with an excellent platform to develop professional skills that I otherwise wouldn’t have been able to exercise. For example, SCNO allowed me to lead teams with real (non-academic) objectives far sooner in life that I otherwise could have.

What makes an SCNO student special?

In my experience, SCNO students from every school share a few characteristics: they expect more from themselves than typical community engagement, they are entrepreneurial, and they want to get better and seek opportunities take risks and improve.

How is SCNO different from other college experiences?

SCNO is one of the only experiences I’ve seen at an undergraduate level that allows students to self-manage a complex organization with long-term strategic considerations and short-term operational challenges. The learning experiences that SCNO creates are impossible recreate in more traditional student organizations.

SCNO Student Perspective: Sarah Brook

 SCNO Student Consultant Sarah Brook 
School: Vanderbilt University

Role in SCNO: Executive Director (Chapter-Level)

Major: Human and Organizational Development and Spanish, Math Minor

Post-Grad Plans: Working for Deloitte’s Human Capital consulting practice out of Atlanta

Favorite SCNO Experience

In working on an engagement with the Nashville Social Enterprise Alliance, my team had the opportunity to network with a wide variety of social entrepreneurs in Nashville and understand just how exciting, evolving, and impactful social enterprise can be. This initial foray into social enterprise sparked my interest in the area and my desire to pursue it down the road as a career path.

Alumni Perspective: Patrick Westerlund

SCNO Alumni Patrick Westerlund 
School: Ohio State (Graduated in 2013)

SCNO Experience: Two years on SCNO Exec Board

Fun Fact: Plans to hike through the Peruvian mountains to Machu Picchu this May

Favorite SCNO Project

My favorite project was the business plan we helped the Linden Cleve Theater write. They were trying to take an old theater that has been closed for 60 years, refurbish it, and use it as a way to engage a low income, high crime part of Columbus, Ohio as both an outlet for the youth and an opportunity to showcase the arts in their own backyard. My team was so moved by this project that we extended it past our half year engagement with them.

What are you doing now?

I now work for a private family foundation in Columbus, Ohio called the Tony R. Wells Foundation. I am on the impact investing team, providing low-interest loans to nonprofits or seed capital to innovative social enterprises. I regularly review business plans and provide feedback to nonprofits and individuals looking to make an impact in their community using business as a tool for good. Within the foundation our team is working to develop multiple social enterprises and I devote part of my time to those efforts as well.

Choose 3 ways to describe SCNO students

Hard-working, ambitious, dissatisfied-with-pizza-club-resume-facades

How is SCNO different from other college experiences?

80% of what I learned in college and continue to use in my career today came from internships, simulations, case studies, and involvements like SCNO. SCNO gives students the opportunity to take otherwise boring classroom material and challenge yourself to apply it to help someone who may be limited in their ability to succeed. To me there is nothing cooler than being an enabler and a problem solver for others.

C is for Community That’s Good Enough for Me

How do you build community? It’s a question I’ve struggled with both on SCNO exec, but in a broader context at Northwestern. As college students, we’re all busy. Between clubs, friends, and just schoolwork, I’m surprised if any number of my friends get enough sleep at all. It’s like that Continue reading

Vanderbilt chapter in the news!

Our new Vanderbilt chapter was recently highlighted by NewsChannel5 in Nashville. Keep up the great work! Check out the links below to view the interview. Plus Side of Nashville: SCNO Plus side of Nashville: SCNO part 2