The PGLF Bulgaria team can find a dozen reasons why this would be a great opportunity for you. However, we would like to introduce you to somebody else, who is not part of our team, who might tip the scales for you and give you the little push that you still need to make the step into the unknown, but promising future with this summer leadership program.
One of the first applicants we have accepted, is already demonstrating her leadership potential. Sarah Fernandes is more than motivated and eager to prove that if you really want something, there is always a way to achieve it, no matter how rocky the road may be.
Sarah got accepted to take part in PGLF Bulgaria, but quickly realized she might need some help with fundraising to cover the tuition fee. Without thinking twice, she started a fundraising campaign. With a fresh sense of humor, Sarah communicates the reasons why she’s doing it, what it means to her and how people can help her come one step closer to her dream. Sarah has inspired our team to conduct a brief interview with her and spread some words of wisdom to the world.
Introduce yourself with a few words. What’s your name? Where are you from? What is your main field of occupation?
Hi everyone! I’m Sarah Fernandes, 24 years old, from “Wonderful City”, Rio de Janeiro – Brazil. Nowadays I’m an entrepreneur in the education area and also a graphic designer and business management student at the Federal Rural University of Rio de Janeiro in Seropédica (Rio de Janeiro State).
In 2017, my business partner and I co-founded two startups. First, “Meu Campus” which aims to connect college students with opportunities at their campuses, such as internships, scientific groups and diverse extracurricular activities. Second, “Universidados”, a startup which aims to develop a software that can detect students at risk of leaving university and prevent evasion in higher education.
What drove you towards applying for PGLF Bulgaria?
I came across PGLF through a friend of mine, who is organizing PGLF Brazil and invited me to be a volunteer due to my marketing and design skills and experience. I accepted and got passionate about the quality and the opportunities provided by the program. At PGLF BR team I also met 2 more friends that had experienced the PGLS (Russia) and PGLF (Jordania) experience. I think Bulgaria is an amazing place and I reckon that it will be an amazing experience. Also, I believe that it will be somewhat easy to learn a bit of Bulgarian, because I speak a bit of Russian, and the languages come from the same linguistic family. Надявам се да го науча добре. 🙂
What is the impact you personally want to have on the other participants during the academy?
Firstly, I want to share some aspects of Brazilian culture. Our skill of easily making friends, our resilience in front of difficulties, our creativity and our fun spirit. I also want to contribute with my marketing, psychology and design knowledge to stimulate others to think beyond the traditional and break the status quo. I’m also “tagarela” – a Brazilian word that describes a talkative person – and I want to contribute with those who may be afraid to speak in public or give their opinion.
Where do you look for motivation when you most need it but least find it?
I love to watch TED Talks and see how many wonderful things human beings are able to do. As I want to have my piece of legacy in the area of education, these videos inspire me and give me the feeling that there is nothing impossible to accomplish.
In addition, I try to meditate or think about people, who trust my abilities and want to be like me, so I think I have to be their source of inspiration and can’t disappoint them. Sometimes I watch a bunch of films on Netflix, like “Walter before Disney” – my main inspiration in business, or listen to “Never give up” by Sia on YouTube.
How did you come across the idea of organizing a fundraising campaign?
I met many incredible young people by Mentoring Young Talents Brazil, program in which I’m the mentor of two low-income brilliant high school students. So, the founder of MYTB program and a bunch of young people at the project usually do crowdfunding to reach their goals, like participate in ONU events abroad, participate in BRASCON conference, MIT Bootcamp and many other similar opportunities. So I got inspired by them and by a phrase that a friend of mine told me once: “Sarah, you conquered the hardest thing, that was to be selected among so many talented people. Money is just a detail and you have the full ability to get it. There’s nothing impossible to willpower people.”
Can you tell us more about the campaign itself? How does it work? How do people can help you? How do you promote it?
First, I made a complete (and realistic) travel budget via Google Sheets to calculate precisely how much money I’ll need (and to share with others to justify the amount I’m requiring). Then, I chose a platform called “Kickante” to start my campaign, after studied many crowdfunding platforms available in my country, their taxes and their time required to transfer the money to my account (this a very important step to choose the right one).
To promote my campaign, I use humour as a communication tool. I communicate the campaign by popular videos with funny subtitles explaining the purpose of my campaign, internet memes and recreating popular posters (like Netflix ones) with titles that catch the attention to the importance of my crowdfunding. I sent it by email, Facebook, LinkedIn and Whatsapp, to my friends, teachers, family and colleagues.
People can help me donating online by the link “bit.ly/campanhadasarah”. The platform accepts many types of payment and you also can get prizes for each donation, depending on their value, from online acknowledgement, to earning a personal brand project done by me.
I also made a sponsorship plan to get money from business donations, so business of any size can also donate and in exchange, they can have, for example, their trademarks divulged online for my personal network of acquaintances, which now comprises more than 10,000 people, from different countries and ecosystems, from students, entrepreneurs to formal business ones, such as restaurants and the financial market.
Are people in Brazil eager to help such initiatives like yours, or you would count on help from other countries and organizations?
I (really) would like to count on the help of people in other countries and business abroad. I can offer my network reach (to their brands), me as an intern or my knowledge in business management, marketing and design to a project.
Also, I’m offering my work (on social media and graphic design) for those who want to hire it for a project. My portfolio can be seen at be.net/sarahfernn
What do you want to say to other potential applicants that are still not sure if it is worth giving it a try?
When you have a goal that makes sense for your life purpose, you do not give up on it. It will never be easy because only those who are willing to do what most would not do, can get where most cannot. And complementing with two parts of Steve Jobs’ speech at Stanford: (…) Sometimes life hits you in the head with a brick. Don’t lose faith. I’m convinced that the only thing that kept me going was that I loved what I did. (…) You have to trust in something — your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life. (…)
So if PGLF Bulgaria makes sense to your goals, to your life: Have sure that it will be an amazing experience and there’s nothing you aren’t able to do. You’ll rock it!
Any doubts? Contact me by firstname.lastname@example.org or by linkedin.com/in/sarahfernn
To sum up,
I’ll tell you something that might shock you – money is a deal breaker. You can’t pretend it doesn’t matter cause we all know it does. But at the same time it very easily can turn into an excuse of not going the extra mile because why making the effort?
What I have learnt over the past years by following this mindset is so simple but honest: the deal breaker is not the money, the biggest deal breaker of all, is you. That “you” telling yourself it’s not possible, it’s way too difficult, there are too many circumstances or the worst of it all: there will be other chances. Been there, done that. Learnt my lesson the hard way. There is never another chance like the one that you have missed. And even if it’s very comforting to one assuring themselves that this or that was just not the right thing to happen, it’s far from the truth.
Truth is much more simple, yet harsh and somewhat difficult to accept – if you grasp for tiny little sense, find a meaning in something, feel if only at the tip of your heart that it’s your thing, go get it. Period. No matter what happens next, you have trusted your gut and tried to make it happen, whatever that “it” might be. And you will congratulate yourself and celebrate in spite of the final result.
There is a beautiful opportunity to meet with people like Sarah that would inspire you to be the best possible version of yourself and live to your fullest potential.
There is a beautiful opportunity to prove to yourself that you are this person already and to build up within a team of highly motivated future leaders from all over the world.
Don’t pass by this chance!
Stop looking for reasons not to do it. Find your reason to go for it. And just do it!