InvestEd talks with Michi Ferreol, who shares her experience working with startups like InvestEd and her pursuit of development work in the education sector.
Michi is an InvestEd volunteer, Education Champion and Harvard Business School MBA Candidate. She has helped InvestEd strengthen its position in the education financing industry at a time when innovation and new ideas are needed to meet the shifting needs of college students in this pandemic. Michi is a talented, kind and inspiring woman leader with many great things to offer the education space, especially for developing economies such as the Philippines. InvestEd is very happy to have had the opportunity to work with Michi and hear her ideas on education.
Read her full interview below:
1. How was your time at InvestEd?
I had a wonderful time working with the InvestEd team and learning more about the company’s unique value proposition! Everyone was not only incredibly kind, but also more than willing to share their personal experiences on the company’s current operations and strategic direction. I learned a lot, plus got to meet some great people along the way!
2. What interested you about InvestEd? Why did you choose to spend your time volunteering for InvestEd?
I worked in education for four years prior to business school, and the one question that always plagued me was: how can we promote high quality education in an affordable way? This, of course, is inherently linked to questions around access and opportunity. So I went to business school to study everything around how education is financed, to how start-ups are capitalized through private investment or how students manage to find the funds to attend school.
As one of the early players in this space in the Philippines, InvestEd naturally caught my attention! I offered to volunteer there because I loved its vision, mission and overall approach. And especially after doing research on all of the student financing mechanisms in Southeast Asia, I was further convinced that InvestEd has a great offering for students!
3. Do you have any tips for college students who are struggling in this pandemic?
Instead of seeing this time as a “pause” or a “break”, try to think about it as the freedom to finally do things that you’ve always wanted to do but have never had the time for.
Specifically, focus on developing skills that build yourself as a student, worker and whole person. That way, you can continue to be productive and emerge from the pandemic ready to take on the new challenges of a post-COVID world.
Take advantage of the free content that a lot of companies are pushing out there now, and learn!
4. What’s your advice to other volunteers who are looking to apply their time and talents in development work, specifically, education?
Oftentimes, when we want to “volunteer” we think about it in terms of what we’d like to give. But I think the better approach is to think about it from the perspective of the organization you’d like to join — what do they need? And specifically, what skills and experiences do you bring to the table that can match those needs?
Education in particular is one of those fields that draws a lot of volunteer time because everyone feels like they can “understand” it. Most of us have been to school, so we have pre-formed experiences and opinions around what a proper education program looks like.
But I encourage volunteers to shed these assumptions and biases to approach the work with a clean slate. Instead of thinking about how you were taught or helped, think about the needs of the students you are serving. What is their context? What is their situation? What things do they need out of a fully transformative educational experience?
5. How is higher education financing (or education in general) relevant today?
I forget who said it, but one of my favorite sayings is: “You can never take away someone’s education.” In the 21st century, I believe in these words more and more. The world is changing much more rapidly than any of us can keep up with. Only education and consistent learning will empower each of us to rise to our fullest potential, regardless of external circumstances.
I believe that there are three things we must fight for in education: quality, accessibility and affordability. With the rise of the internet and new technologies, quality and accessibility have steadily increased, hand-in-hand. However, affordability still has not caught up. This is why I believe education financing is the next big problem to solve in this space!
6. What do you think can InvestEd do better?
I’d love to see InvestEd reach even more students than it is currently serving. I know the team is working actively to do this, and I wish them more power as they live out this mission!
7. How has your experience with InvestEd help you achieve your goals?
As a born and bred Filipino, I have always been interested in learning more about the education landscape in Southeast Asia. Through my short time with InvestEd, I was able to learn a bit more about the exciting innovations happening in this region, especially in the student financing space. It has helped me become better prepared for the time when I move back here and figure out what value I’d like to contribute to education as well!
More about Michi Ferreol
Michi has spent four years working in social enterprises across the United States, Africa and Southeast Asia. Organizations she has worked with range from a digital learning company to a new higher education institution to a workforce development startup. Most recently, Michi was part of the founding team for ALX, a pan-African training organization, where she led the process of building and launching a 6-month intensive work readiness program for recent college graduates in Kenya.
Michi’s long-term goal is to build and fund innovations in emerging markets, with a special interest in Southeast Asia and East Africa, and with a focus on preparing youth for the Future of Work.
Michi graduated cum laude from Harvard College and as one of only two Ames awardees in her entire year. She is currently completing her MBA at Harvard Business School, where she is a Horace Goldsmith fellow for leadership in social enterprise. She is originally from the Philippines, a place that is always at the center of her heart no matter where she goes. In her spare time, she is a hiphop dancer, scubadiver and aspiring journalist!
Check out her writings at email@example.com
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InvestEd is accepting interns and volunteers! For those who are interested, send your CV to [email protected], together with your work and learning interests.
We are open to having dynamic, passionate and talented young leaders onboard our team for a complete hands-on experience on working with startups and social enterprises.