When Compassion and Empathy Meet Action

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March 29, 2016

Mount student named CEO of Rise Through C.H.A.N.G.E

Jessica May Photo

Jessica May, a 22 year old Bachelor of Public Relations student at the Mount, has recently been named the CEO for the Canadian branch of a not-for-profit organization called Rise Through C.H.A.N.G.E., a not-for-profit organization whose mission is to challenge healthcare, attain nutrition and to grow education, particularly for children around the world through sustainable solutions.

The organization is striving to ensure that every person, regardless of race, religion, gender or socioeconomic status has access to education, healthcare and nutrition that will allow them to pursue and fulfill their goals in life.

A life-changing trip

Jessica’s motivation to make a change was ignited in the summer of 2012 after volunteering at an orphanage in Uganda for two weeks.


“In high school, I read a book titled Stolen Angels, which was set in Uganda. The story stuck with me and a year later, a friend posted through social media a volunteer opportunity to go to Uganda so I went. It completely changed me as a person.”

- Jessica May, CEO, Rise Through C.H.A.N.G.E.


She describes the moment she knew she wanted and needed to do more. She was in the back of a truck touring the city of Kampala. “I saw mothers with babies who didn’t have anything. No diapers, no food, tin on the rooftops. There were kids with no shoes on, and one kid was crumpling up leaves to try to make a toy. You read about things or people tell you about things, but when you see it first-hand it’s completely different.”

How Rise Through C.H.A.N.G.E was born

In 2014, Jessica travelled back to Uganda for a month-long trip. This time, she went on her own and backpacked to explore the country and to see the people she had met two year’s prior. Upon returning to Canada, she got in touch with two other volunteers who were involved with the same orphanage in Uganda Jessica visited. They too, were keen to do something more official and sustainable to help children and families internationally.

Rise through Change Logo

Through a group conversation on Facebook and some late night Skype calls, the American branch of Rise Through C.H.A.N.G.E was born. Jessica was named to the board as a Public Relations Secretary in November of 2014. One year later, Rise Through C.H.A.N.G.E became incorporated in Canada and Jessica was named CEO. She is now focused on building the foundation, piece by piece, here in Canada.

Jessica’s notebook tells the story of her passion and dedication to the organization. Through the black ink sketches, one can see the evolution of the official logo for Rise Through C.H.A.N.G.E. “The whole idea of the sun is that the sun gives us life, and we only have life because our planet is a certain distance away from the sun. The logo is a rising sun, but also looking like flower petals…and in between each ray is a little green leaf. It’s that simple and symbolizes what we are trying to do.”

A vision for the future

When asked what her goals are for the organization, Jessica’s enthusiasm is palpable. “I’m in this 100%. I want to encourage people to open up their mind and to step outside of their comfort zone. My purpose is to give people a reason to care and to open up opportunities for them to visit places like Uganda. We are not here to hustle people for donations or resources. We want people to be open to an experience that may change their lives. Plant-based nutrition is our biggest focus. You can’t teach a hungry child. If we focus on the soil, things will take care of themselves.”
 
Jessica is keen to motivate others to take action and to follow their dreams. “Once you expose yourself to something you care about, nothing is hard. People ask me how I find the time to do things, but this comes so easy for me. I tell people to be open, have empathy and compassion and to explore what is out there. We are all a part of this planet and we all have something to offer.”

Jessica plans to complete her Bachelor of Public Relations degree at the Mount over the next two years and then hopes to pursue a Master’s Degree. One of her long-term goals is to teach a public relations course focused on not-for-profit organizations. She is hopeful by that time, she will have lots of experience to draw upon. When asked for her favourite quote, Jessica delivers a simple, yet impactful line: “Your talent + helping others = your purpose.” Jessica May is certainly following this formula. She has found her purpose.  
 
For more information about Rise Through C.H.A.N.G.E, visit risethroughchange.org













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