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Guest Post: Nourish Alumnus Jen Smith | Nourish International

January 30, 2014 | Posted in Alumni Spotlight, Nourish Office, Ventures | By

Guest Post by University of Tennessee Nourish Alumnus Jen Smith

Social innovation refers to the creation of new ideas or strategies to solve a social problem.  Social innovators or social entrepreneurs are individuals that work together to develop these innovative ideas and turn them into action. Nourish International engages students and empowers communities to make a lasting impact on extreme poverty and provides an avenue for students to learn from, reach out to and connect with an incredibly vast network of social innovators.

Nourish International served as the ideal induction into the world of social entrepreneurship and innovation for me.  Prior to my experience with Nourish, I had never even heard of social innovation; I just wanted to make the world a better place.  After my first Nourish Summer Institute, I discovered a community of like-minded students and professionals that supported and challenged each other.   However, there was also a sense of urgency because we had work to do.  I remember saying the Institute felt like going to Hogwarts: all those unique individuals in the same place not knowing what to expect but making magic happen.

So far, I have been to three Nourish Summer Institutes and each one seems to progress in awesomeness—from the events, to the speakers, to the goals set.  My first Institute taught me about social innovation and introduced me to the Nourish community.  At my second Institute, I learned about the StartingBloc Institute for Social Innovation and received encouragement and support to launch a small Ugandan jewelry sales Venture for my Chapter.  My third Institute, I came back as a Nourish alumnus, StartingBloc Fellow, and small business owner because of the network that Nourish International introduced me to.

Nourish taught me that while innovation takes many forms and is made through a countless number of avenues, the network gained along the way is what makes amazing things happen.  Nourish International, and particularly the Nourish Institute, unites students with an impressive collection of innovators, entrepreneurs, and various other ridiculous and crazy people to make nearly anything possible.

Here’s my challenge:

Reach out.  Take advantage of the network.  Go and make amazing things happen!

– Jen Smith

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