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A New Path to Sustainability: How Alcia Shaw Reinvented Her Career with Dream.Org's Scholarship

April 10, 2023

Authored by Torie Soriano, Digital Campaigner

No matter your age, it's never too late to seize an opportunity and embark on a new career path. In fact, 30% of the 2022 Dream.Org Clean Energy Scholarship recipients were over the age of 40. One of these recipients, Alcia Shaw, shares how she reinvented her career to pursue one of her lifelong passions: the environment. 

“I’m a Jamaican immigrant. I grew up on a farm, so I have always had a close connection to the environment and nature. ”

After immigrating to the U.S., Alcia moved from Florida to New York in 2011 to give her son better opportunities. “Of course, after having a child, whatever decisions you make, your choices are primarily geared towards them and not so much towards you.” Focusing on her son’s education, Alcia set aside her job aspirations temporarily.

Ten years later, her son is now an Ivy League graduate. “All my energy from that phase of my life was focused on him, I'm focusing that same energy on myself now.” She had hopped from one corporate position to the next throughout her son's childhood, experiencing perpetual dissatisfaction and unfulfillment. It was time for a career change. “After doing some introspection, I'm like, you know what, let me go back to my roots. I want to go back to the environment, to farming, to nature. That's when I had an epiphany. Let me go into sustainability.” 

While researching job prospects in this field, she came across Dream.Org. The Clean Energy Scholarship provided funds not just for those already in the clean energy sector but those looking to enter it, perfect for Alcia. The application process made her even more excited because there were no age restrictions. “[Usually,] you have to be a certain age in order to qualify for things like that. So I was happy when I saw that there were no restrictions.”

Alcia used the funds to take a course titled Corporate Sustainability Management, Risk Profit & Purpose at Yale University. The course demonstrated how businesses could structure their operations to meet the sustainability standards set by federal and local governments. The experience from this class inspired her to focus her job prospects on community development in sustainability. 

After finishing the course, Alcia set herself on the path to finding a job and leveraging her scholarship connections. Dream.Org employees provided professional development through resume building, networking opportunities, and additional training recommendations for Alcia to become a stronger candidate in the climate sector. “I just want the opportunity to get an entry point [into climate sustainability work]. Once I get an entry point, I know that my work will speak for itself. I just need them to open the door.” 

Access to education and training can be a significant barrier for individuals looking to transition into a new job, particularly for those who may think they need to be younger to enter an emerging field like clean energy. But Alcia Shaw is showing us that there is always time to turn your passions into a meaningful career.

“It’s never too late, and you are never too old to live your dream. I have started mine; I got the scholarship, I got my education. You just have to believe in yourself, believe in a cause, and work towards it.”

Alcia's story serves as a powerful reminder that age should never be a barrier to pursuing your dreams and making a difference in critical fields like climate tech and sustainability. By investing in your education and embracing lifelong learning, you can break into the tech or climate tech industries and make a lasting impact on the world.

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