From Lima, Peru, to northern Uganda, and Los Angeles to New York City, Lucas Turner has been on the move since graduating from Creighton University in 2013.
It was clear, even as an undergraduate, the Heider College of Business graduate was not going to follow a conventional career route.
He credits Creighton and his advisors for recognizing his strengths – “rather than making me feel inadequate because I was not a science whiz or a Fortune 500-bound trainee,” he says – and encouraging him “to be disruptive and push the envelope, which ended up helping me discover a career path that was the perfect fit for me.”
That perfect fit turned out to be a career in the nonprofit sector – or with for-profit firms with a socially conscious business model – that involves international travel and requires thinking outside the box.
A semester abroad in Athens, Greece, as a student “opened up my worldview and unveiled a passion for international development,” Turner recalls.
He continued on that track right after graduation, when he moved to Peru to volunteer for Krochet Kids International, which seeks to lift women and their children out of poverty by teaching them an income-earning trade: knitting and crocheting.
Turner’s next stop was northern Uganda, when he joined charity: water, a clean water organization responsible for well construction in rural villages. He visited over 70 communities and learned firsthand the significant role clean water plays with regard to economic well-being.
“Without clean water, people cannot break out of the cycle of poverty, and any other issues take a back seat because dirty water most of the time means death,” Turner says.
He returned stateside to intern at TOMS, an experience he describes as “a dream come true.” A company whose business model involves helping a person in need with every product sold, TOMS was an organization he had researched when he first thought about pursuing the social entrepreneurship track of his management major.
“I learned so much about transparency, pivoting and wearing several hats in a company,” he says of the internship.
For the past three years, Turner has worked for buildOn, most recently as a community engagement manager on the East Coast.
buildOn aims to break the cycle of poverty, illiteracy and low expectations by partnering with communities to build primary schools internationally, and running high school service learning programs in the U.S.
He has led 22 school building treks to Nepal, Nicaragua, Malawi, Senegal and Haiti, coaching travel teams of high school and college students.
“The upcoming generation of young people care more about giving back more than any generation before, so being able to work with them on a daily basis is the best part of my job,” he says.
Having been surrounded at Creighton by both professors and peers who pushed him to perform at a high level, Turner believes his time at the university prepared him well for each of his varied post-graduation experiences.
Now, he wants to establish his own company.
“I am still on a journey to starting my own thing, and when that tipping point comes, I know I will be ready,” says Turner. “It’s all about patience and seizing the right opportunity.”
To follow Turner’s journey, visit his website/blog.