What is Faces of New Profit? It’s a spotlight on members of the New Profit community, why they do what they do, and who they are. This week, we talk to Ela Bajus!
What motivated you to work at New Profit and/or in the social sector?
The plain and simple answer is my belief in community. I recognize the beauty and power that exist in the communities we partner alongside with and how those are further illuminated when a collective stands together.
This belief is rooted in my identity of being a first-generation college graduate and a proud daughter of parents who immigrated to the U.S. Navigating the academic world was challenging, but I found support and built community in spaces intentionally designed for first-generation college students. The most valuable thing I learned was the recognition that the very values my parents instilled in me were and are unique strengths of our multiculturalism. This is why I paid it forward and volunteered for programs oriented for students who were lower-income and first-generation college graduates at UCONN, it’s why I served two years as a City Year AmeriCorps member, and why I personally commit to building authentic and courageous spaces at New Profit.
What are a few things that are on your bucket list?
1.) A goal that I’m usually afraid to share out loud – but I’ll do so for the sake of a great blog post – is running the six major marathons. Here’s my progress. I ran Boston and NYC and I signed up for Chicago 2020. Only London, Berlin, and Tokyo to go (the word ‘only’ should be read with slight sarcasm.)
2.) My siblings are amazing bakers and chefs… and just once I’d like to get recognized as the best baker/cook in the house. Fingers crossed for my family dessert competition to take place at Thanksgiving.
3.) Take a long vacation where I can country-hop and be completely off the grid.
Who is the greatest influence on who you are today?
It’s difficult to name just one influencer and for that I am grateful. I had an amazing high school teacher who held my academic work and commitment to extracurricular activities at a very high standard; I’m unsure if my high school self fully appreciated this… but her expectations of me had such a lasting impression that I wrote a thank you note to her last year (at which point marked 12 years since graduating high school.) I have an amazing mentor who I connected with while serving as an AmeriCorps member. She truly shaped who I am in the workplace and I still go to her for advice. The folks who have influenced me the most are my family, especially my siblings. We’re a big bunch and we’re all curious learners, which means we wrestle with lofty and layered conversations.
What is the one thing you think our world is missing today?
I think we can share more moments of appreciation and gratitude – whether it’s a random compliment to a stranger or sharing gratitude to a friend. It’s a reminder of the good in our world and community.