Jessica Jackley ’00 is proof that it doesn’t matter what you major in

Margaret Ekblom, Senior Writer

Jessica Jackley ’00 said of her University experience, “I didn’t take a single business class at Bucknell and studied philosophy instead.” Jackley spoke in Trout Auditorium on Sept. 15 and defended her liberal arts background as part of the Walling Lecture Series. She is the co-founder of Kiva, the first person-to-person microlending website, as well as the CEO of ProFounder, one of the first crowdsourcing websites.

“Her career is a fascinating example of how what you major in at college has very little to do with what you do in the world. It’s also remarkable how much she has accomplished without a ‘master plan’–she just followed her instincts about what she would find fulfilling,” Associate Professor of Comparative Humanities John Hunter said.

Jackley graduated from the University in 2000 after majoring in political science and philosophy. Her majors, coupled with ideas from popular culture, such as the scheming businessmen in the television show “Mad Men” and the movie “The Wolf of Wall Street,” ingrained a negative view of the entrepreneurial and financial industries, she said.

Jackley affirmed the role that her philosophy background had in shaping her entrepreneurial experience. Her courses taught her alternative ways of asking questions, a mindset she has both adopted into her business and investing tactics and used to revamp her view of the business world in a new, favorable light.

After graduating from the University, Jackley spent time in Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda where she learned the value of profit and its ability to change lives. In the spring of 2005, Jackley co-founded Kiva.

Jackley said she realized entrepreneurship was something she could humanize. She went back to school to get her MBA at Stanford University and later went on to become the CEO of ProFounder and write a book called, “Clay Water Brick: Finding Inspiration from Entrepreneurs Who Do the Most with the Least.” She also teaches social entrepreneurship at the Marshall School of Business at the University of Southern California.

Jackley’s story of finding the right career path in a non-traditional way was motivating to students and faculty alike.

“To no small degree, Jessica Jackley represents exactly the kind of leader the [school] and, indeed, Bucknell as a whole aspire to produce–someone in touch with her values, predisposed to imagine a better world, and capable of making that vision a reality,” Interim Dean of Management Michael Johnson-Cramer said.

“Jessica Jackley is a perfect example of how fortune favors the bold. As she said, there will always be excuses that you or other people tell you why you can’t pursue your dreams, but at the end of the day these excuses may be the only barrier between yourself and the life you want to live,” Christian Robertson ’17 said.

“What an inspirational alumna! Jessica’s liberal arts education served her well; she recounted many ways she had applied her Bucknell coursework. I was also glad to hear that she no longer saw business as inherently evil; her MBA helped her to understand organizations and build more effective social enterprises. I hope many Bucknell students follow in Jessica’s footsteps, making positive change in the world,” Associate Professor of Management Jamie Hendry said.

At the end of her talk, Jackley encouraged students to go after what they feel passionate about and not to limit their potential.

The Walling Lecture Series will continue to feature scholars and experts in management throughout the fall semester.

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