Southeast Asia

changing the world



“perhaps, sir, you will someday come back with books” – a phrase that turned an idea in to action and will forever change the world…

serendipity is a pervasive word in my life. it means discovering good fortune by accident. while i believe that things happen for a reason, and one act can lead to another, i do love the way life somehow just works out the way it should.

i used to volunteer weekly all through college and truly missed this when i began working in minneapolis. i was trying to find balance – adapting to post-college life, moving to a new city, and starting a new job all while trying to remember what really nourishes my soul. i struggled to find an organization i could align with, one that was causing remarkable change in the world. i never truly found my niche in that city. then within 2 days of moving back to austin, an old college buddy i used to volunteer with asked me to come to a meeting at central market to discuss an organization that helps out Vietnam. knowing little else, i took time out of my hectic sunday really just to see familiar faces. i sat down directly across from my soon to be great friend and colleague who lended me a copy of Leaving Microsoft to Change the World which i poured through that night, amidst tears, laugher, joy, and unequivocal inspiration. 2 years later i’m a donor and the president of Room to Read Austin. sometimes you jump in heart first, and just hope that things fall in to place.

RtR Austin @ThanhNhi for Empower Women event

of course, while lucky accidents are a romantic idea, it all traces back to the way we were raised, our surroundings, and intent. i believe and hope that people inherently want to do good and open their minds to new experiences. in my case, i am lucky my natural curiosity and ambition have led me down some pretty exhilarating paths in life so far.

i have a desire to make a difference in a big way. BHAGs (big hairy audacious goals) are part of my regular vocabulary, and i surround myself with driven and supportive people. while i love to think the cup is always half full, i’ve also come to realize there are lots of mistakes to be made and lessons learned along the way, unforeseen failures and incorrect expectations. but ambitions should be uncapped and dreams uncontained. you just have to take the first step, and keep putting one foot in front of the other.

i was initially moved to action by john wood’s book, his spirit, and the realization that i can be a part of epic change. it’s the people i’ve met through room to read, the impact we’ve made in just 10 short years, and the beautiful faces of educated children that keep me going. i’m so thrilled for the opportunity to visit india this december to see our work first-hand, and then i make my first trip to the homeland in march to see where my personal donations go.

picture from Room to Read

picture from Room to Read

we all get caught up in the day to day, and sometimes it’s hard to step back and see the big picture. but i always try to remember – dream big, take action, celebrate the good, acknowledge the bad, and trust that things will eventually fall in to place. one day i hope to look back and say i made a lasting mark on this world.

picture from Room to Read

For more info on Room to Read, visit or click to donate here.

what do you think?

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *