TC: What’s the goal of the campaign?
ZP: The overall goal is just to get the message out there about what we do. I think that a lot of times when people hear the name they see it as we’re going to change the world. It’s not 100 percent clear what we do, but we work in schools, we work with students to keep them on track and from dropping out in the high school dropout crisis, but you can’t really tell that just from our name.
The #makebetterhappen campaign shows that because you can go on, and its not artificial, everyone’s sharing how they feel and what they do every single day. It kind of shares the small success they have with their students while they’re working with them or even the partnerships that work in the schools, the students, everyone. [When you go on the website] you have a better feeling for what we do, and it’s more inspiring, and it pushes you to want to do it and be a part of it.
TC: What exactly do you do in the campaign?
ZP: My position is called team leader. I manage 10 people and everything that they do. As far as what I do, I do a lot of quality control, checking in to see how they’re doing — I even communicate between our team and the different groups and parties. I’m actually studying to take the LSAT. It was something I was always interested in, I just never knew if I wanted to go. Working here solidifies the fact that I wanted to go on. As much as I love what I do, I realized I can’t be a teacher because I don’t have that ability in me to do it for a large amount of time. I know I’m interested in education, so ... being part of a policy and advocacy in organization is what I’m interested in, so I decided I wanted to start to study for the LSAT and go and get my degree so I can work my way back into the field.
TC: What advice would you give to current students at the college?
ZP: When you’re in college, you don’t always realize how important different experiences are, and you feel like different classes aren’t applicable, but I would definitely say that everything I did at Ithaca definitely did come back into my life over the past two years. So I would say keep an open mind, because you never know when the stuff you’re learning now will come back in a different way and really help you out.
This article was corrected on Nov.27, Patel is a team leader, not the team leader featured in the #makebetterhappen campaign.