How an idealistic veterinary receptionist became the assistant director of a non-profit

21 Nov

All my life I’ve wanted to change the world. People have told me that goal is too “idealistic” and that if I want to be taken seriously, I need to set “realistic” goals. Public Allies taught me what those people didn’t know: changing the world is realistic; you just do it in small ways, every day.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. As you may have read in my bio, my parents raised me to value equality—to see similarities in people rather than differences. This could be because they were theater majors in college, or it could be because they’re just awesome like that. Regardless, something in their lives made them realize that they needed to teach their children how to treat people with kindness and compassion no matter what.

I learned at a young age that equality sometimes needed to be fought for and always needed to be defended, and I took this to heart.  During High School I was very active in creating and running my school’s Gay-Straight Alliance.  We created it because my close friend was unable to take his boyfriend to prom. After that I took every opportunity I could to advocate for LGBT rights, traveling all over New Jersey and New York. I even served on the board of the Central New Jersey chapter of the Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network (GLSEN). I was certain that I wanted to be a Political Science major and that I would use that to change the world.

However, even the best-laid plans can change. During my time at Drew University I realized that I liked working with people more than I liked working with policies and I cared more about leadership, empowerment, and movements from the ground up. The problem was that I graduated at a time where jobs were scarce, especially in the nonprofit sector. I started to feel like it didn’t matter if I wanted to change the world and had faith in my ability to do it when no one would give me a chance. That’s when I found Public Allies and my life changed forever.

Public Allies saw my passion for service-learning and youth development, and my dedication to changing the world from the ground up and believed in me. Throughout my first year they helped me hone my leadership skills, introduced me to my first true mentor, and gave me the opportunity to work as the Assistant Director of a nonprofit in Baltimore. Being accepted to Public Allies Maryland is one of the best things that has ever happened to me. My time with Public Allies was so amazing, in fact, that I had to stay for another year!


7 Responses to “How an idealistic veterinary receptionist became the assistant director of a non-profit”

  1. Christine Fitzpatrick November 22, 2011 at 2:48 pm #

    I’ve always though it funny that people encourage children to dream big without teaching them how to get there or how to fight the naysayers along the way. When you finally grow up and get out into the world you hardly know where to start! It’s so wonderful that you learned the value of small changes at a young age and how much you can accomplish when given the proper tools. It never hurts to have supportive parents who also know the importance of being pretty in pink!

    Sounds like Public Allies has helped you to acheive so much and encouraged you further to follow your dreams. I was a Human Services major in college and I’ve gone through many internships, volunteering positions and worked in public service agencies. Too often I’ve encountered people who are discouraged and defeated after working in public service for only a few short years. I believe this is because people want to make a difference and aren’t given the tools to succeed. Luckily Public Allies is recruiting the highest calliber people they can find and sending them out in full force. Now you can pass on your values to the children you work with and someday we’ll have a whole army of people working to make small changes to better their communities! WooHoo!

    • Dara December 8, 2011 at 9:51 am #


      Thank you so much for your thoughtful comment and your support. Clearly you see why Public Allies is so awesome! 🙂

  2. Kaleena November 22, 2011 at 4:38 pm #


    From your post, it is easy to see you have deep care for others. You make a great insight about where this comes from as you talk about your parents. I imagine the positive experiences you have had reaching out to others only increased the desire to serve. As I mentioned on Twitter, I really look forward to reading how your past and current endeavors impact your future direction.

  3. imdelgado December 1, 2011 at 2:49 pm #


    Kudos to you for keeping your optimism and idealism in the face of barriers. Keep up the great work and enthusiasm; you’re fighting the good fight!

    “If you’ve lost the capacity to be outraged by what’s outrageous, you’re dead.” -Wendell Berry

    • Dara December 8, 2011 at 9:53 am #

      Thanks for sharing that quote! I love it! I always try to keep a positive mental attitude!

  4. lindsaymays13 December 4, 2011 at 3:55 pm #

    Awesome post, Dara!
    I love, love, this: “changing the world is realistic; you just do it in small ways, every day.” I am happy to have another 2nd year here to share their experiences. I am looking forward to your upcoming posts!

    • Dara December 8, 2011 at 9:53 am #

      I’m so happy to have another second-year on Ally Blog too!

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