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I think up until this point, I’ve lived my life under the mantra of “doing what scares me most.” I learned this philosophy very early on from my missionary parents who emigrated to the U.S. from Ghana when I was almost five. Ever since then, I’ve been “experimenting early and often” and “reaching outside of my bubble.”

I was raised in a small town of less than 20,000 people in West Tennessee. Ever since I could remember, I’d always tried to reach outside of my bubble. Whether it was a trip to Ghana to see family, or a youth leadership program in Washington, D.C., I always sought out experiences beyond my borders.

One could say that my comfort zone either didn’t exist or was frequently malfunctioning. As a result of my exploratory nature, I ended up in Lexington, VA, at Washington and Lee University (W&L); which was about 700 miles from home, but felt a universe away.

Before college, I’d never even heard of AmeriCorps, let alone the Bonner Leader Program. Like most wonderful things in life, I learned about it through a friend and decided to try it out. That’s when I became a habitual experimenter. I spent the majority of those hours working in the field of education. I tutored, assisted, painted, organized, and every other educational verb you can think of. I learned then what I always knew—education, specifically the exchange of knowledge, is a powerful weapon against the world’s injustice and lack of opportunity. My time (sounds like a prison sentence!) also taught me that information is the most valuable currency we have.

That’s why I went to graduate school in California at the Monterey Institute of International Studies and decided to do an internship in Brazil one month before I actually left the country. Going to work in one of the largest economies in the world was a once in a lifetime opportunity that I couldn’t pass up. I bought my plane ticket and never looked back. Yes, the language barrier was intense and working in a language only a month after learning it (I insisted) was at times unbearable; yet, I survived, I learned, and most importantly, I grew. You see, that’s what happens when you experiment often: you have no choice, but to become better than what you are.

That same perspective brought me to my current job in marketing and communications at Wikisway, a tech start-up. My intrinsic motivation to learn more and be fearless got me a job that I’ve technically never done.

At this point in my very young life, so much of me is comprised of the lessons I learned by experimenting early and often, I’m not afraid of failing. It is par for the course and a potential result of pushing to your personal limits. Greatness and success are like pools at the end of a cliff; in order to get there sometimes you have to take a leap of faith and just dive in!


Grace Andrews is an AmeriCorps Alum who currently works at Wikisway, a user-driven platform that connects people, places, and things to each other, while bridging the gap between encyclopedias, social media, and search engines. This is the second in a series of blogs we'll feature from City Year and AmeriCorps alumni about their journeys to Be Fearless through service. Read the first post here.

AmeriCorps Alums is the only national network convening the alumni of all AmeriCorps national service programs. Since 2005, AmeriCorps Alums has been an enterprise of Points of Light dedicated to building a community of experienced volunteer leaders committed to a lifetime of service. Alums are encouraged to fully realize their potential by building connections and engaging with others to create transformational change in their communities. Since 1994, more than 775,000 Americans have served in AmeriCorps. Learn more at www.americorpsalums.org.

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