Service as Success

“Success without service is merely indulgence.” Kimberly Goff-Crews’s words in her opening address caused me think critically about how I want to use my Yale education to be useful in the world. She informed us that we have an estimated 90,000 hours of work in our lifetime, and challenged us to make those hours meaningful. I initially came into the event feeling daunted by the idea of choosing a career that would generate 90,000 hours of meaningful, life changing work. What a big choice to make! However, she reminded us that our careers will change over our lifetime – even established adults continue to explore “who they want to be when they grow up.” 

The concept of a continuously evolving career became much more tangible in the session “Global Citizenship.” I sat around a seminar-style table with relatively recent graduates who have since made incredible feats in creating positive change on a global scale. To my right sat Kristina Tremonti ’11, founder of “I Paid A Bribe Greece.” While in Greece she was forced to pay a bribe for her 90-year-old grandfather to receive emergency medical care. Kristina became inspired to tackle systems of corruption and began a blog to document bribery in her home country. This blog allowed victims of corruption to have their voices heard, and was just the beginning of her fight against corrupt systems. I felt inspired by the way Kristina acted on her experience to create real change with the resources that were available to her. “I Paid A Bribe Greece” began as a small idea and grew into a tool for systemic impact.

The Global Citizenship panel allowed me to realize that I do not have to find the one career that will make an impact in the world. Rather, my method of being useful in the world will evolve with my own experience and the world’s changing needs. I can start with a small idea and grow it into something much larger. I can learn valuable skills in one field and end up using those skills to make a significant impact in a completely different field. There is no one way to craft a meaningful life. If I make service an integral part of my definition of success – just like these alumni have done – my 90,000 hours will matter.