PeopleFund Blog

“Taking Off” by Kenneth Dang

PeopleFund Education & Training Intern Kenneth Dang shares his experience working with the Junior Entrepreneurship Track this summer.

Where did it start? Every story, no matter how amazing the climax or resolution may come to be, needs someplace to start. Every fairy tale needs a “once upon a time”, every romance needs a glace from across the room, and every joke needs someone walking into a bar (or maybe a knocking at the door). I have yet to reach the epitome of my professional life. I have no doubt that when I do hymns will be written of my glory, nations will rise and fall based on what I decide to have for dinner, and courting options will appear en masse outside of my door for me to awkwardly not know what to do with. But until then, I was left wondering, “Where does it start?”

Currently I am an intern for the Junior Entrepreneur Track program hosted by Peoplefund and sponsored by “A Glimmer Of Hope Austin”. Peoplefund is a non-profit organization that lends financial and technical assistance for small businesses and projects in low income areas. Most of the clients are women, minorities, veterans, and other non-profits all needing nothing more than a fighting chance to watch their dreams sprout to life (I think I just understood the logo). Being a finance student at St. Edwards University and having a certain affinity for charity and helping others, I didn’t see any other option for my summer. So, after what seemed like endless cycles of interviews and staring at my inbox, I was able to label myself the business assistance intern for this glorious organization.

The Junior Entrepreneur Track Program or “JET” for short was created to teach students practical skills that they would need in business and guide them towards a substantial future. In the first two weeks alongside the humbling presence of Keneisha Grayson, the program mediator, I’ve created worksheets, lesson plans, taught from text as well as my own knowledge, and have even started to put together a week’s worth of material on stocks. I’ve been quietly put to shame as I have just learned the difference between the fish and salad fork in a formal business dinner placement among other things I once thought I knew. And as pivotal as cutlery education can be to one’s profession, it’s not the most important thing that I’ve gained from only two weeks in this program. I’m amazed time and time again by people, the students.

Don’t get me wrong, there are days where it’s like working with a different but somehow eerily familiar species. Put a bunch of high school students in a room for 7 hours a day, 4 days a week, 5th being field trips usually, and there is bound to be some restlessness. There’s also some mess involved. Oh, the noise can sometimes be obnoxious. I can’t forget flying objects everywhere, although there was a day where Phoenix Aviation Academy Austin founder Zay Collier came to speak and airplanes were encouraged. Where was I going with this? Right, there’s a fire in every single one of their eyes.

Having seen the economy twist and turn I’ve become a bit jaded to become anything even closely related to what’s considered a banker. But I can no longer see the pessimism now that I’ve seen Peoplefund, an organization whose sole purpose is to help hardworking individuals succeed and help the economy. How can I be dark, when I can see light in the eyes of the students? Whether they want to act, or serve our nation, or dance, or even work on horse teeth (specific and awesome), there is hope and determination shoved deep inside each of their souls. I can teach them everything except what they all already have, passion. And like fire, passion spreads. When I see them work on projects or really try, I get the daily dose of inspiration to fight through anything for what I want. The students come from different backgrounds with different personalities but at the core of it all, is a vision. It’s a vision for what they want to do and who they want to be. And it’s a vision I can literally see them working towards.

The funny thing is, when they’re successful, and I know they will be, I’ll know where they started. As much as I’d like to boast about the program, it didn’t start with JET, it started with them. It starts with waking up too early in a summer too short, putting one foot on the ground and stepping towards the door to head to place where there’s a chance they could become better. There’s a chance they could fly a little stronger, soar a little higher, to a place a little brighter, sometimes whether they like it or not and sometimes whether they know it or not. It starts with them. They will lead and the world will follow.

So where does it start for me? I don’t really care, because it’s not about where or when or even how it starts, as long as it starts, as long as I’m able to take that first step and as long as I have a reason to take it. I can fall, hard, as long as I have a reason to get up and keep walking, because if I keep walking, if I keep stepping, I just might be able to take off.

Kenneth Dang

“Vision without action is a daydream. Action without vision is nightmare”

~Japanese Proverb

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