Erika is accumulating a great resume. She participated in a service trip to Vietnam after her junior year of high school. She then won a prestigious scholarship to study with the U.S. State Department Strategic Language Initiative in Turkey the following summer. She attends St. Olaf College, a selective liberal arts college in Minnesota and she has had an internship at Morgan Stanley. This summer she adds another line to her resume with an internship at Kaehler Luggage, a purveyor of high quality luggage and travel products, headquartered in Winnetka.
Though impressive, this list of accomplishments and opportunities is not entirely uncommon for students from Winnetka and similar communities. Erika Jimenez however comes from a more disadvantaged community in Chicago where these opportunities are rare. But, if opportunities are provided, achievement need not be rare. Despite her family’s economic struggles, Erika has become part of the first generation of her family to attend college.
Some of Erika’s opportunities have been made possible through a partnership between Farther Foundation and Kaehler Luggage. Farther Foundation is a nonprofit organization that provides scholarships for deserving high school students from low-income families to participate in educational travel programs across the country and around the world. Participants in Farther Foundation programs have gone on to graduate from high school and college at rates far higher than their peers. Kaehler Luggage approached Farther Foundation with an idea for an internship that would allow students to work alongside experienced staff in a Kaehler Luggage store, learn about products and gear that makes travel safer and more convenient, and practice salesmanship, communication and other job performance skills.
Ben Kaehler, General Manager and Director of Operations at Kaehler Luggage, explained, “As a company we believe that travel provides an education that books cannot. We are thrilled to learn about, and partner with, the Farther Foundation who is giving these experiences to members of the Chicago community who otherwise would not have them. The experience and training that Erika and students like her will receive in our stores will be invaluable in preparing them for successful future employment.”
Erika has a career interest in retail management and is excited about her internship with Kaehler Luggage. She is a young woman who eagerly takes advantage of opportunities and learns her lessons well. Upon returning from her service program in Vietnam, Erika wrote, “Going abroad is the ultimate time to discover new things about yourself. I discovered that it takes lots of effort and I should not only be patient with others, but with myself as well. I realized that my purpose is to take the opportunities available to me and use it for the greater good to serve others. The experience helped me be a better leader because it taught me that I must push myself to become what I am truly capable of and to succeed.”
Farther Foundation is a 501(c)(3) charitable organization providing scholarships to low-income students to inspire them to reach their highest aspirations through educational travel experiences.