Meet Sara Jean-Francois, New Profit’s Learn to Earn Intern
We wanted to take a moment to introduce all of the amazing interns who have joined our team this summer! Meet Sara Jean-Francois, our Learn to Earn Intern.
What inspired you to work in the social sector? What about New Profit’s mission inspires you?
I was inspired to explore the social sector because I believed it to be a field of possibility, but I also knew that the field needed radical change. I devoted time to doing research on organizations like New Profit, and I found that New Profit’s ground-breaking work with the Systems Change Initiative literally pulled me in the minute I read about it. New Profit’s Systems Change Initiative is rarely discussed within the circles of higher education, where I’ve been spending most of my time nowadays. As I work to earn my Masters Degree in Public Policy at the Brandeis Heller School for Social Policy and Management, I have often felt caught between two beliefs — one grounded in understanding the role of advocacy and policy in creating change, while also believing that in policy there was no space for advocacy. New Profit’s mission, partially the strong focus on proximity, and true equity, is what pushed me to apply for this internship but also more personally, inspired me to believe that I wasn’t so far from my own truth. From the first time, I found the internship listing on Google to working on my cover letter to interviewing with Adetola and Glendean– my hope was that if I was able to get this position, I could use it as a pivotal time in my development as an activist, writer, and analyst. At the time that I found this internship, I had recently been diagnosed with COVID-19, and I was bedridden and trying to be productive. I like to think of it as fate that I ended up being selected for this position, in a way it encouraged me to keep pursuing my goals even as sickness took over my life, literally.
What are you most excited about during your summer at New Profit?
I am most excited to work with New Profit on their Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion initiative—an initiative focused on advancing equity within the social sector in areas such as philanthropy, education, and others. New Profit’s portfolio investments have significant impact and reach. In the higher education sector, few people get to have influence on institutional changes especially as related to low income, students of color. For this reason, I am very excited to establish a Learner Advisory Board with New Profit’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Initiative because I hope it will be able to give voice to students on these campuses who often feel marginalized and underrepresented.
Who is a mentor for you, and why?
My Aunt Suzie is my inspiration, mentor, and greatest advocate. She has been a pivotal icon in my life, particularly while journeying throughout my childhood, high school, college, and now my masters degree. She has been a person who has let me fall, and then let me wallow a bit, then told me to pull myself back up! She has taught me about failure, and patience, but also strength and understanding. I have always found her even more iconic, because looking at her and my mother, I see the two of them as two sides of the same coin, they are like me in so many ways, or maybe I am like them. She doesn’t know this, but without her, I do not think I would have had the courage to be so uncertain and yet assured in my journey as a professional and also as a woman.
Describe a piece of wisdom that you learned in your life or a piece of wisdom that has been imparted on you by someone who is important to you. How has this idea influenced your life?
I’ve learned a small lesson over many years of friendships, romantic relationships, and betrayals: treat others how you want to be treated but do so regardless of how they treat you. I have found that people will always find a way to be kind, respectable, and honest with others. The ticket line is “If they wouldn’t do it for me, why would I do it for them?” Well, I am here to say, you do it because that’s who you are, and who you intend to be. You can’t let others take you out of your character. When you do that, then they have the power to control the narrative. This is your story. You get to choose who you become and what role you play. I’m not sure if this is some radical realization, but in the face of such racial tension, and injustice, and let’s not forget COVID-19 — I try to remember that as much as possible today, tomorrow, and every day.