My service experience at UNC has been nothing short of phenomenal. Although I was not incredibly involved with service in my freshman year, I was very privileged to have been offered an opportunity to perform a service project in Bolivia in the area of microfinance.
My summer was spent working in a microfinance NGO in Cochabamba, Bolivia called CADEPIA, La Cámara de Pequeñas Industrias y Artisanías. I spent my first few weeks performing a needs-assessment with employees within CADEPIA as well as the micro-entrepreneurs who worked with the organization. My first project had to do with digitizing the digital receipts and records, several hundred new entries of which were being made each day. Traditionally, receipts and records were first hand written on paper and then manually transcribed onto the computer; a very arduous and time-consuming activity. As a computer science double-major, I created several Excel templates and wrote several macros that allowed a loan officer to enter in a client's information and pertinent details and click a button, at which point a digital receipt would automatically be generated and printed for the client's records. This immediately decreased the per-client service time by an order of magnitude.
Next, I noticed that many of the micro-entrepreneurs selling their crafts alongside the streets, competing with one another in what was not healthy competition. In order to remedy this, I organized a city-wide crafts fair where I rented out one of the plazas in the city and brought together all of our micro-entrepreneurs to sell their products. Artisans who produced similar products were located close to one another in the plaza. The week-long fair brought a tremendous amount of revenue to all of the entrepreneur and increased their recognition within the city.
Coming back to school as a sophomore, I was incredibly motivated by the work I had accomplished in Bolivia. I signed up for the APPLES ASB Katrina Relief trip to New Orleans where I volunteered to rebuild some of the homes in the lower ninth ward. As part of the trip, the class participated in an EDR-led skills training course in basic construction. My junior year, I took this experience with me and participated in a...