2/20/13 – The Global Social and Sustainable Enterprise MBA is an innovative program at Colorado State University, and our students are as diverse as the paths that brought them here. This story is written by current student Trang Tran, who will graduate in Dec 2013. Trang is the President of CSU Net Impact chapter and part of the development team of Luciernaga, a social enterprise bringing solar energy to people living off grid in rural Honduras.
I still remember the first time I met design engineer Tim Prestero about two and a half years ago when I was working for East Meets West in Hanoi, Vietnam. Tim came over from Boston to join me on a field trip to visit regional hospitals. Three days in a row, we drove 10 – 12 hours a day to see some of the most remote hospitals in Northern Vietnam to talk to the doctors and nurses and learn about their problems to see how best we could help them. I must say that was the most fascinating part of being a development worker. In fact, I loved it so much that I never thought of myself ever changing careers. But I did not expect the same passion from an engineer, let alone a Western engineer. To me, an engineer was always the one who filled their life with a bunch of boring technical stuff and stayed away from enjoying the fun of human interaction.
Despite of all my engineer biases, I was blown away by Tim’s enthusiasm and passion to learn more during the trip. It turned out to be one of the best field trips I’ve ever done, and it resulted in the “Firefly” – an innovative phototherapy technology that would help hospitals in developing countries save babies from jaundice, a common problem in newborns which could lead to permanent brain damage if not treated timely and correctly. After dozens of hospital visits, hundreds of conversations with doctors and nurses, and thousands of messages exchanged between Boston and Hanoi, the “Firefly” is now saving babies every day – and I am very proud to have been part of the team from the beginning.
So when I sat in a class about ‘design for aspiration’ being taught by Tim Prestero last weekend, my experiences came full circle. I would have never found my way into this elective course taught by Tim if I hadn’t aspired to continuing my education. And I would never have aspired to joining the Global Social and Sustainable Enterprise MBA at Colorado State University had I not worked with Tim and East Meets West in Southeast Asia.
– Trang Tran