Michael LaiStudent at Harvard College StartingBloc NY ‘13 Application
I’m an eternal optimist. I think it’s because I follow this definition of happiness: “happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony.”— Mahatma Gandhi
My happiness stems from my beliefs:– A quality education for all and learning as a lifelong process– Communities that are open, inclusive, and democratic.– Entrepreneurship as a toolkit to affect change and take charge of your own life
Where did these beliefs come from?I was born in Chinaand raised inSouthern California,with a loving familywho gave me theopportunity andfreedom to follow mypassions at an earlyage. I didn’t realizehow privileged I was,until…
I met my doppelgangers. —kids just as bright as me, just as hard- working, but lacking the same opportunities that I was afforded. I’m playing “ninja” with one of them here during a volunteer trip to the SEED Public Charter School in Washington, D.C., 2011. I vowed to give back to those less privileged.
Since then, I’ve been: a fellow at an innovative education nonprofit…1st employee at anearly stage highereducation startup… Chair of a 50 person civic education volunteer program at Harvard… Member of the Harvard iLab student council…
A very smart man once told me, “don’t think about what you want to be, think about what you want to do.”—President Obama, USSYP 2010 Next, I want to start a social venture in the field of education. But first...
I think the StartingBloc Fellowship is a perfect next step. Why StartingBloc?• The opportunity to be involved in an organization that aligns with my core beliefs• Learning more about the field of social innovation/building my skillset• Lifelong support for my journey in social entrepreneurship
Above all, the people!• Friends— inspire/be inspired & learn from/teach• Potential co- founders/partners• Mentors—industry leaders/domain experts• Touch points for funding and grad school• Emotional support• “Network intelligence”