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Alumna Pursues Passion for Social Change with Lutheran Volunteer Corps

June 13, 2017

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Like many first-year students, Greta Carlson ’17 came to Texas Lutheran University not really knowing what she wanted to pursue. Through a combination of mentors, study abroad experiences, and her Social Innovation and Social Entrepreneurship (SISE) courses, she discovered her passion was serving others.

Carlson will soon begin a one-year volunteer position in Nebraska for the Lutheran Volunteer Corps (LVC) with the group Omaha Together One Community (OTOC). As part of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, the LVC connects volunteers with organizations across the country. At OTOC, she will have the opportunity to work directly with local organizers and influencers to make a positive impact within the community on a variety of important issues.

“This will allow me to see the inner workings of a nonprofit,” Carlson said. “I wanted to get out of Texas, at least for a little while, and gain experience in nonprofit. The LVC is allowing me to do that and their support lets me try new things with an intentional community. I’m also excited to work specifically for a community-organizing group since that’s a really important skill to have so I can be part of future social change”

She said TLU’s SISE program and faculty took her on a journey where she found out who she really was as a person and a professional.

“I learned how to be critical, thoughtful, creative, adaptive, versatile, supportive, and hopefully, even wise as I venture out into the job market,” Carlson said. “The faculty are great mentors and help shape ideas into goals, and goals into reality. I give them a 10 out of 10 score for being encouraging, supportive, and inspiring. I credit them for convincing me of my potential.”

For her, one of the best and most unique aspects of her major was how the classes were constantly adapted to the changing field of social entrepreneurship.

“As the program grows, so do the ideas,” Carlson said. “Dr. Judy Hoffman and Dr. Alicia Olsen, as well as many other professors in the department, continuously expand their course offerings to be more applicable to social entrepreneurship.”

Dr. Hoffmann, director of the SISE program, said students truly enjoy reading and learning about the many possibilities that lay before them if they chose to go into this field.

“These stories inspire them,” Hoffmann said. “They also get an opportunity to explore their ideas as part of the various assignments we do. For some, this could very well be the beginning of their senior seminar project where they build their social venture business plan. After the introductory course, they take a series of business classes along with interdisciplinary classes as part of their chosen area of concentration. These are classes in theology, psychology, sociology, history and so forth. They also take courses specific to social entrepreneurship that helps students understand how social venture and nonprofit businesses are different.”

Hoffmann also adds that the SISE program is truly designed to help students find their passion while also gaining a solid foundation in disciplines needed to give them the best chance at success after graduation.

“I’m looking forward to sharing in the commitment to being the hands that work for justice in the world,” Carlson said. “The skills I have learned from my college experience have prepared me for this year of service and continued growth finding my place as a social innovator.”