Telling the stories of twenty-somethings to
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Tiffany

Facing the future when your college major and heart's desire no longer seem to align

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Graduate college, check.

Pass the LSAT, check.

Get accepted to law school, check!

Pack your bags and move to Honduras to teach second and third graders…uh, check?

This was the path of 23-year-old Tiffany last year after graduating from the University of Georgia. By senior year Tiffany had hit what most college students experience towards the end of their college careers, major regret.

“I was a senior in college and I didn’t know what I wanted to do. My degree was in special education, but I didn’t want to teach. So, I thought, selfishly, ‘What’s going to make me more money?’ Law school,” Tiffany said.

That year, Tiffany worked hard to study and pass the LSAT, apply to law schools and finish strong at UGA. However, Spring Break 2012 radically shook her plans. Tiffany returned from a mission trip to Dominican Republic with a new perspective and a lot explaining to do.

“Even now it’s hard to put into words what happened. I felt called to go to a different country. I just knew I wasn’t supposed to go to law school, which was a big deal because that’s what I had placed my entire future in. I had told everybody that was what I was doing, ” Tiffany said.

A lot of people didn’t understand Tiffany’s sudden change of plans (imagine telling your parents, friends and family that you weren’t going to law school anymore but planned on moving to another country).

“God worked everything out. Turns out my dad’s adopted brother’s wife’s family runs an orphanage in Honduras. I knew I wanted to go to a Spanish speaking country, so I started to check it out. Well, checking it out turned into accepting a year-long teaching position.”

One confirmation after the other seemed to roll in as Tiffany prepared for the adventure that was ahead of her. Even her special education degree specializing in emotional behavior disorders, the major she had been so unsure about her senior year, would be utilized as many of the orphans needed extra care in that area.

“I flew into Honduras for the first time to move in for the year. I was given a class of 16 kids who didn’t speak English. I didn’t speak Spanish. I also found out that first week that Honduras has been listed as one of the most dangerous countries per capita in the world. Saying goodbye to my parents as they flew back to the States, was a wow moment.”

Tiffany lived in the orphanage with 21 children and 6 other American teachers. It was one big family. She loved pouring her heart into the children and being a part of their development. She discovered that many of the children had been orphaned by the deaths or imprisonments of their gang involved family members. In fact, it’s the height of gang related crimes that make Honduras so dangerous.

The daily, up-close reality of gangs, poverty and lack of hope weighed on Tiffany, but not in the way one would think. Instead of the constant gang presence instilling fear in her, it sparked compassion. She began visiting incarcerated gang members with a prison ministry team. One of the prisoners was the father of one of the children in her class.

“I began to see these gang members as people who were loved by God and I realized that He had a better plan for them just like He had a better plan for me,” Tiffany said.

It was moments in the prison and in her classroom that gave Tiffany clarity on her future plans. She was inspired to dedicate her life’s work to rescuing and ministering to gang members. After her first year of teaching ended, Tiffany decided to move back to the States to focus on this plan. It was not easy for her to leave her students and fellow staff members, but just like she had felt an unexplained pull to go to Honduras, she felt the same pull to leave.

Tiffany moved back to her hometown Atlanta, Georgia and landed a fellowship with Catalyst Conference. Through the fellowship she has connected with gang ministry resources and leaders, including the founder of Homeboy Industries, Father Greg Boyles. Her long-term goal is to start a similar program to Homeboy Industries in Atlanta.

“It’s amazing to think that this college major that I didn’t even want, that I thought was a mistake and was afraid I wasn’t ever going to use led me on this adventure to finding what I actually wanted to dedicate my life to doing,” Tiffany said.

Her advice to her twentysomething peers is to not let people pleasing lead decision-making. “You may disappoint people when you step out to do what you feel God is calling you to do, but I can tell you that in the long term a lot of those relationships heal themselves, and you’ve only grown because of it.”

Tiffany |

Catalyst Fellow • 23 • Atlanta, GA

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Why one twentysomething made the career move away from a global brand to a local outreach.

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Let’s say you’re a twentysomething who manages to land a job right after college. Let’s say it’s a good, grown-up type of job; you know, the kind where you don’t have to live in your parent’s basement. And let’s say you really like this job—but (isn’t there always a but?), despite all of that, there’s a tug in your heart to do something more meaningful. This was 26-year-old Britton’s life.

After graduating from Elon University, Britton worked with Red Bull for four years as a field marketing specialist. In those four years, Britton moved to three major cities in three states, got promoted and was exposed to many creative circles.

“It was a crazy, fast ride,” he said about his experience with the company. “They supported youthful thinking and a big idea approach to life. You could really make a name for yourself at a young age.” After all, this was the same brand that sponsored a man diving from space, and its international campaigns target and endorse athletes in extreme sports.

But as great as the gig was, Britton struggled to find a sense of true fulfillment.

“When I was in high school, my identity was wrapped up in sports, but then I got injured, so I turned my focus to sports media and marketing,” he explained. “My friends thought I was going to be the next Sports Center anchor, and I did, too—and that became my identity.”

After accepting the position at Red Bull, Britton became “Britt from Red Bull” to everyone he met, and his identity once again became synonymous to his occupation.

“I found myself longing to do something that made a difference in other people’s lives,” Britton said. Because he didn’t know what that would look like for his future, he began to pray for God’s direction. While the clarity didn’t come immediately, perspective did.

Because Red Bull was such a forward-thinking hub, Britton began to see his time there as a unique training ground for what would eventually come next, even if he wasn’t sure what that would be.

“I was still giving Red Bull one hundred percent, and praying for God’s will for the future,” Britton said.

Six months later, Britton encouraged his friend Blake, who had just launched a non-profit called beremedy, to enter a team in the Red Bull Soapbox Race.

“I thought it would be a fun, creative way to get the organization’s name out there in front of its target audience,” he said.

Blake’s team got accepted and partnered with Atlanta Mission to build a soapbox car. As race day approached, Britton got better aquatinted with Atlanta Mission’s team and purpose. It just so happened that Atlanta’s largest and longest-running provider of services to the homeless had an open media marketing position.

“I had a bit of apprehension at first,” Britton admitted. And while going from Red Bull to a homeless organization didn’t seem like the most logical career move, it became more and more apparent that it was the answer to Britton’s prayers.

Today, Britton is the Media Relations Manager for Atlanta Mission. Looking back, a little over a year later, Britton is thankful for the path his career has taken.

[The interview took a brief pause when a homeless family who is currently being served by Atlanta Mission walked by the coffee shop patio. The kids called out "Hey Britt!" The family approached for a quick visit with their friend Britt. A very cool moment for this interviewer to witness.]

“Even though it’s only been a year, I feel like I’ve gained 10 years of experience and connections,” Britton said. From valuable lessons in grace to connections with a wide array of Atlanta Mission partners, to serving Atlanta’s homeless community, Britton feels beyond blessed for his new role.

atlanta mission kids

When asked to give a piece of advice to his twentysomething peers, Britton warned about the cons of over-involvement and over-committing yourself.

“It seems as though a lot of twentysomethings lack focus when it comes to being involved and serving causes,” Britton explained. “They want to be involved in everything, which only ends up creating subpar involvement and sense of community.”

Britton’s advice to his peers is to focus on serving one (or maybe a few) organizations or causes well.

“The best way to move forward and grow is to build off of a foundation of existing success,” Britton said. “You can’t build a reputation of success when you just dabble in a lot of things.”

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Photo credit: Morgan Blake

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