T-Minus 31 Days to Puerto Rico

Hello all! What is to follow is an introduction of myself, as well as a little bit about the Service Learning Project that will be taking me down to Puerto Rico this spring break.

Let’s start with that introduction. My name is Brian. Brian Walsh to be specific. Brian Matthew Walsh to be even more specific. Fun fact: If I was born a girl, my parents would have named me Rose which I find to be a very pretty name. Perhaps, if I ever have a daughter I’ll consider naming her Rose. Well, that seems like enough specificity about my name. Let me tell you a little bit about myself!

Although I go to school in Pittsburgh, I am originally from a town in Massachusetts by the name of Medway, the good ole 02053. In case you are wondering, yes this means I am a New England Patriots fan. Sorry Steelers Nation. I don’t want to waste space in my blog post fanboying about how dominant Boston sports has been during my lifetime ( is 12 professional sport championships since 2000 a lot?), but I bring it up to make the point that sports have been a defining characteristic in my life. From watching to playing, sports have always held a special place in my heart. Growing up, I was highly involved in the whole athletic gamut. Soccer, baseball, basketball, tennis, football. You name it, I probably tried to play it. Many of my fondest childhood memories come from a field, a court, or a pitch. Even to this day, I will never pass up the opportunity to play in any sort of pick up game. You would have to twist my arm for me to give you a favorite sport, but if you started twisting I would probably say my favorite to watch is basketball and to play is tennis.

What else belongs in a personal introduction? Probably a little bit about how I spend my free time. The first thing that comes to mind is reading. This has always been something I enjoyed, but now it is probably one of the greatest influences in my life. Over the past year I have read many books that have drastically changed the way I think about the world that I honestly can’t imagine what my life would be like had I not been exposed to them. Some of my favorite books include Be Here Now by Ram Dass, Way of the Peaceful Warrior by Dan Millman, and Siddhartha by Herman Hesse.  In addition to reading, other interests of mine include yoga, meditation, and movement. The reason I list these three is because of the tremendous influence they have had on helping me shape my personal philosophies on life. By this I mean the sort of guiding principles that help me navigate the constantly flowing waters of life. What are these principles you may ask? Well although always changing, they range from ideas about living in the moment, choosing love over fear, and embracing my inner child. I could go on for a while about these kinds of things, but I think I’ve spent enough time on this personal section.  

Let’s move on to academics and how that relates to my plans for my professional career. I am currently a junior here at the University of Pittsburgh studying Supply Chain Management, with a minor in Economics and certificates in both Leadership and Sustainability. To be perfectly honest, I am not totally sure of the specifics of my career aspirations. With that being said, ultimately I hope to find myself in a career where I am using the tools of business to bring about positive change in the world. I am aware of the extreme vague-ness of that, but I believe this is the time of my life where it okay to be still figuring that out what exactly it is I want to do.  At the moment however, I am interested in the idea of using my degree in order to help companies create more ethical and sustainable supply chains.

Enough about me, let me tell you a little bit about this Service Learning Project that I will be involved with over the course of this semester! Through this Service Learning class at Pitt, myself and three other students will be working with a non-profit in Puerto Rico called Caras con Causa. Caras does a wide variety of amazing work in their area, but their fundamental aim is to support social justice through education. The project that we have been assigned deals with assessing the feasibility of an environmental laboratory that Caras hopes to create in the wetlands of Puerto Rico. Not only would the creation of this lab aid in the preservation of these wetlands, but it is also intended to allow local school children access to learning opportunities that otherwise would not be available! When I first saw this project posted on the study abroad site I couldn’t believe my eyes. A trip that combines my interests of business and sustainability! Not to mention the benefit of working with a non-profit that is doing incredible work in their community. It seemed to good to be true, yet here I am writing a blog about it!

To be frank, I find it a little challenging to talk about what I hope to get out of this course. I think part of the beauty of this Service Learning Project is that it is so unlike anything I have ever been a part of before. Because of this, I trust that I am going to have extremely valuable experiences, but I don’t really know what these experiences will look like. I realize I have just given back to back vague descriptions, so I’ll try to be a little more specific. What I hope to get out of this opportunity are experiences and challenges that I never would have gotten had I not been doing this. For example, being part of a real-world project in a new environment with a different culture is drastically more intensive than my typical college experience of taking notes and studying for three exams during a semester. So while I am not sure exactly what to expect, I am confident that this trip will provide no shortages of learning opportunities which will help me grow personally, academically, and professionally.