Telling the stories of twenty-somethings to
inspire risk taking., motivate change., celebrate the defining decade., stir ideas., encourage fun., challenge apathy., illuminate the journey., ignite innovation.

How one twentysomething’s decision to help others changed his life.

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In our twenties, we realize the cost of basic life, and, sometimes, it’s a rude awakening. Mom and Dad aren’t buying the paper towels and toilet paper anymore, and we realize that life is…expensive. But we also become grateful for having the opportunity to have our basic needs met, especially since so many people around the world don’t have the same luxury. Developing countries are filled with “lack” – lack of water, sustainable food systems, and adequate resources to provide for everyone. Although monthly bills can be a stressor, our twenties are a time when we start to realize just how lucky we truly are.

This attitude of gratitude pushes many twentysomethings towards giving back to others. Many of us find our calling to help those in need with a cause we find near and dear to our hearts, whether it be hunger, poverty, child welfare, etc. Trevor, 23, is one of those twentysomethings and he decided to improve the education of not only those in his community, but for people around the world.

Two years ago, Trevor started TeachTwice, a social venture that educates children and their communities through stories and the exchange of culture. The concept is simple – a single book, written by authors from a developing country, provides parents in the global marketplace stories to read to their children, and gives financial support to schools in the country where the book originated. “I really believe education drives the economy which drives development,” Trevor says.

With a team of like-minded student volunteers, Trevor began TeachTwice with the mission of improving education systems in developing countries and exposing U.S. students to different cultures. They have already published two books, from Uganda and South Africa. And they hope to be a model to other nonprofits worldwide.

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Through his work with TeachTwice, Trevor hopes to demonstrate to other organizations how to be more business savvy and sustainable. He stands behind the belief that even when TeachTwice is not making a lot of money, they are still accomplishing great things with their business model by employing writers and illustrators who are making an impact on the industry, economy, and education of their country.

Trevor and the team have recently realized the importance of distribution channels in order to reach as many markets as possible. They are currently selling books domestically and using any profit to integrate the books into the education systems of the originating countries. Right now, they are exploring the many ways to sell books in America, despite a dying publishing industry, through online book space like Amazon to physical space like local bookstores, schools, and libraries.

And their hard work is paying off. TeachTwice has been featured on the local news, they’ve signed a significant contract for distribution, and have formed a partnership with Nashville’s Public Library system.

Trevor Burbank Teach Twice

Since graduating in 2012, Trevor, looking for not only a steady income but also a way to continue doing what he cared about, turned down a consulting job for a part-time opportunity to work with the Vanderbilt Center for Neuroscience Drug Discovery. This job allowed him to work with TeachTwice as much as he needed.  The Center, knowing Trevor, “really understood TeachTwice and supported it,” he explained, and they let him work as many or few hours as he needed to in order to continue to support his organization.

As fate would have it, Trevor’s work at the Vanderbilt Center led him down another career path. He realized the importance of what the Center was doing – creating drugs and making huge strides forward in medicine for diseases such as Parkinson’s, Huntington’s, and Schizophrenia. After being inspired by this work, he felt like he could add more value to the Center by giving them his marketing and business skills he gained through leading TeachTwice. Since most of the employees are researchers, they had not put the time into thinking about how to market themselves and become more business savvy. Trevor pitched himself for a new Business and Marketing position – and the Director created it for him.

One of Trevor’s favorite one-liners to give when people ask for advice is, “I think success is in constantly moving forward.”  For example, there were months when nothing would happen for TeachTwice, and then ten wonderful things would happen within one week. Trevor believes that if you pursue what you’re passionate about and focus on doing what you love, things will move forward for you.

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How one twentysomething found a perfect balance In photography.

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Erin has been around photography her entire life.  Growing up, it was all around her. Her father was a photographer, and taught her the art and love of the craft early on.  In college, she veered slightly away from photography with a major in marketing, where she maintained some form of creativity. But during her senior year, she started dabbling in photography on a more serious level.

As an equestrian, Erin combined her love for the sport with her old-time passion and started photographing her friends and equestrian teammates with their horses. She loved it so much that when she graduated, she began shooting weddings and engagement photos, in addition to maintaining her 9 to 5 job in marketing.

Although Erin has had great success as a full-time photographer and a full-time marketing specialist, her heart was with the horses. Nothing energized her more than interacting with and shooting horses and their riders. With all the time and effort that goes into post-production, she didn’t want to spend her limited time on subjects her heart wasn’t invested in.

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Erin began to turn to dream ideas for shoots, from a carousel horse to an Alice in Wonderland tea party. These stylized shoots, though purely for fun and unpaid, confirmed that if Erin could do any type of photography, it would be with horses.

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Erin received the perfect opportunity to blend her love for horses, photography, and stylized shoots when Style My Ride— style blog for equestrians­—asked her to fill in for one of their regular photographers on a shoot. Style My Ride features glamorous editorial photos showing off current trends in equestrian wear. They loved her work, and asked her to come back a handful of times.

Now, Erin has transitioned to mostly shooting portraits of riders with their horses. She’s even been able to do some weddings with horses involved.

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“You don’t have to have it all figured out,” Erin shared with a smile. But her experience shows that, with persistence and determination, you can get do what you love most.

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