Dreams for Kids

Emerging Leader: Pat Austria

399813_10150456022911958_1875795_n Current residence: McLean, Virginia Hometown: Alabang, Philippines Age: 21 College of William & Mary, 2013 International Relations and Process Management and Consulting (with a concentration in Entrepreneurship)

Meet Pat Austria, a driven Pilipina, ready to inspire the world. This wonder woman has worked for Development Gateway and the World Bank as a geo-coder and consultant. In the aid field, that means she has mapped out aid projects and overlaid it with poverty-related data, in hopes of promoting collaboration and accountability among agencies and organizations. As an intern for Project for International Peace and Security (PIPS), a she focused on solving international problems through innovative means. Her team presented their policy brief to individuals of the academic and professional political community.

“I’m an undergrad and I’m young. But I can make a lot of impact,” says Austria, after reflecting on her experience with PIPS. Austria also exhibits her tenacity and drive for making such an impact through her passion for youth issues.

“Children’s issues are pure and innocent [and] not clouded by politicization,” explains Austria. She fears that young people are  discouraged by economic situations, diseases and disabilities. As the Executive Director of William & Mary's Students for St. Jude, she saw this first-hand while visiting the hospital during the summer. Her experiences with Dreams for Kids and Buddy Ball have shown her how sports can inspire inner city, underprivileged and disabled youth.

“You don’t have to change the world, but you can inspire someone and maybe they can do it,” Austria adds, as she explains her hope for todays’ and future young people. Austria has also been involved with the Pilipino community.

“The Philippines is impoverished [but] full of love and excitement,” notes Austria. “People are willing to help each other when children [of other families] grow up together.” While working with Development Gateway in Summer 2011, she was granted the opportunity to pursue her own research on innovative technology and disaster management in the Philippines.

“Everyone has a cell phone,” Austria notes. “Maybe no TV or fridge, but they have cell phones.” Currently, Austria is developing a four-part platform to tackle natural disasters. It includes the utilization of an SMS alert system, victim map, road status map and donor map, all of which can be accessible by mobile phone. She hopes this crisis network model can be applied internationally. Her research is funded by a William & Mary Charles Center grant and entrepreneurship conference competitions. Though she receives positive feedback from both US and Philippine government officials and professionals, her social venture is going slower than anticipated. Nevertheless, she does not want to rush it. Should her venture be developed, it will be free and accessible to all.

Pat Austria may be young, but continues to addresses problems scaling from the international to the local level. As advice for fellow emerging leaders, Austria offers the following:

“Figure out what you’re passionate about and take initiative. If you don’t see anything that fits, forge your own path and put yourself out there. Believe in yourself.”

Photo credit: Pat Austria