A VISION OF SERVICE
A service trip to Cambodia over winter break her junior year was a turning point in Zinn’s life. She visited an orphanage for children living with HIV/AIDS. “It was an oasis of joy in a country facing extreme poverty and hardship,” she notes. Zinn had always thought service would be something she would do once she had achieved financial security and had the time and resources. The founders of the orphanage helped change that mindset for her. She realized
“I don’t have to wait to create an impact. I can do it now.”
Back at Villanova, Zinn had developed a friendship with Emily Felsenthal ’10 CLAS, who founded Victor’s Vision in Chulucanas, Peru during her senior year. Felsenthal visited Peru through a summer internship and was inspired to create an after-school program after spending a week volunteering at a youth shelter. At Felsenthal’s urging, Zinn volunteered at Victor’s Vision during the summer after her junior year. She could easily see the tangible impact of the work being done and the passion excited her.
Zinn’s experience at Victor’s Vision inspired her to apply for a Fulbright grant in international education. She spent a year in Malaysia as a Fulbright Grantee working in an impoverished primary school system. She then continued her career in development finance and has spent the last few years providing social financing to empower low-income populations in poverty-stricken countries.
Zinn has remained involved with Victor’s Vision and now volunteers as director of Development. “What makes Victor’s Vision unique is that it is a comprehensive program that addresses not only the academic needs of the students, but also the nutritional, social and emotional needs,” explains Zinn. The program’s goal is to prepare students with the tools to graduate secondary school and pursue a university education as a pathway out of poverty. An important component of its success is that the program empowers local staff to be decision-makers.
Zinn explains that perhaps the best testament to the success of the program is from the students themselves, who say the program has made them a better person—not just academically, but their whole being.
To learn more about Victor’s Vision, visit www.victorsvision.org.
This story was originally published in the Winter 2020 Villanova Business Magazine.
Victor’s Vision recently completed its 10th year of programming and the first graduates are enrolled in university.
of students in rural areas of Peru like Chulucanas attend university.
of Victor’s Vision program participants who graduated have gone on to university