We had the good fortune of connecting with Rachel Devine and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Rachel, do you think college made a positive impact on your life and career? Do you think it was worth the price tag?
I absolutely loved my college experience. It has had a deep impact on my life, my personal formation, and where I am today in my career. I spent all 4 years at my university (PLNU), and I can see the personal growth from freshman year to senior year. I was challenged in my classes, and learned new ways of thinking. Not only that, but the career center on campus helped me make connections – which have landed me the opportunities I have now in my career. I genuinely love learning, and I’ve always been “good at school”, so I recognize that the traditional college path is not for everyone. I do believe people can be very successful without going the traditional college route. For me personally, college opened me up to opportunities that I would have never had. I loved my classes, I loved my degree program, and I learned so much about the world. I also learned to think for myself. College was a big deal because I did the research, read the books, and learned how to form my own opinions about things, instead of just adopting the opinions of my community of origin. College was also a place that fueled my love for people. I earned my degree in international studies and political science with an emphasis in African cultures and peace studies. These are fields I’ve been passionate about since a young teenager. My classes focused on communities around the world – it was a blend of sociology, human rights, and political theory. It only deepened my love for the world and my desire to see communities empowered and dignified. I now work in the human rights field. I work for a victim services organization that works with women who have been sexually exploited. I am so thankful for the professors that poured into my life and took the time to encourage me, shape me, and share their wisdom. My professors saw things in me that I didn’t initially see, and they encouraged me to take opportunities that have been so rewarding. Through my university, I’ve been able to spend a summer in the D.R. Congo, live abroad in Nepal for a semester, conduct independent research in Asia, and so much more. It was also because of the encouragement from my professors that led me to submit my research paper to conferences. It won awards and I was invited to present my paper at University of Notre Dame at their Human Development Conference. Besides all the academics and learning, the friendships and memories I made in college are things I will cherish forever. We did so many road trips, so many weekends camping, exploring national parks, surfing between classes, and going on crazy adventures. We used to drive through the night just to watch the sunrise at Joshua Tree, or hiked Angel’s Landing for our spring break. The price tag? Honestly, the things I’ve gained and learned from college are priceless to me. I’m so thankful for everything those 4 years gave to me. Could I have picked a more affordable option? Yes. Was I stubborn and dead-set on my decision? Yes. I had a lot of financial aid and scholarships, and honestly took a leap of faith. Every semester I would ask “how am I going to pay for this” and truly the Lord worked miracles and somehow it worked out. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. And if you really feel passionate about something, take that leap.
Please tell us more about your career. We’d love to hear what sets you apart from others, what you are most proud of or excited about. How did you get to where you are today professionally. Was it easy? If not, how did you overcome the challenges? What are the lessons you’ve learned along the way.
I definitely feel like I’m very much at the beginning of my career, and there’s so much ahead of me! I’m coming on 3 years at GenerateHope. If you asked me what I wanted to do when I was 13, I would’ve told you working at an organization like GenerateHope was my dream job. So here I am. It’s pretty crazy. There is truly no better education than doing. I have learned so much on the job. I’ve had to figure out things that I never studied or was never prepared for, but if you are willing to try and make it up as you go, that will take you far. Also – Google is your friend. I’ve literally been on the phone with a global anti-trafficking org and I was inuring what it would look like to partner with them. They asked for some specific type of presentation that I’d never heard of, I said ‘of course’, and hung up the phone, wondered what the heck is that, and GOOGLED how to make it. By the end of the afternoon I made a pitch deck that I felt really proud of. Make it up as you go. Something that I feel most proud of is my curiosity. My curiosity makes me quite brave because I so desperately want to discover things for myself. I am genuinely curious and interested in so many things and I love learning, so this has landed me in some pretty incredible places. I graduated from the FBI Citizen’s Academy in 2018 because I told someone I find FBI work fascinating – and I had no idea that this woman was in a very powerful position and invited me to apply. I now attend the Human Trafficking Collaborative Lawyer’s Club meetings, the Victim Services meetings, and recently have been invited to the County task force meetings and briefings. I’ve spoken on panels with Deputy DA’s and presented to hundreds of people. Simply because I asked people questions and I was willing to show up. These events and committees have exposed me to some incredible work, and I’ve gotten to meet some impressive and inspiring people through this. I’m most excited to see where my love for helping people, heart for justice, and insatiable curiosity will take me next.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Everyday will start with good coffee (OB Beans/Bird Rock/James Coffee/Holsem), and likely every day should end with watching sunset! Day 1 – bike around my neighborhood of Ocean Beach. Grab coffee at OB Beans, walk the pier, watch the surfers, lay on the beach, grab a beer later at Wonderland or OB Brewery for incredible sunset views! And of course, sunset cliffs. Day 2 – North Park. Dark Horse coffee in the morning, Holsem for the afternoon cold brew. Verbatim books, Pigment (you have to), Tribute Pizza, maybe Mike Hess Brewery to cap off the day. Day 3 – obviously more fun in the sun activities (i.e. beach, surf) but for food, we’d try Bahn Thai or Plumeria, then maybe hit up Polite Provisions Day 4 – Surf at Tourmaline all day, grab coffee and food at Java Earth cafe. This is always a favorite day for me. Dinner at Oscar’s or Mitch’s seafood. Catch the sunset. Day 5 – Little Italy farmer’s market, walk around Little Italy, gelato (duh), Ballast Point for a beer, walk along the water at Waterfront park, maybe get lost downtown and explore the city. If we’re able to get a spot, buona forchetta is to die for.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
SO. MANY. PEOPLE. I’m a big believer in community. We are not meant to do this life alone, and sometimes it takes a village. My story is no different – community raised me, mentored me, helped me, shaped me. But this shoutout goes to Dr. Lindsey Lupo – one of my professors at PLNU. Her classes were some of my favorite, and yet I remember feeling intimidated – some of my peers were way smarter, knew all the right answers, and this level of academics was maybe not meant for me. That was definitely the good ole Imposter Syndrome talking. I remember it was finals week, and I went to hand deliver my final paper. I had written about the Palestinian Feminist movement. I went into her office and handed it to her and she asked, “How did you feel about your paper?” And I said, “eh, I think I did alright! I struggled with my research a bit”. She looked at me and said, “You know, I love reading your papers Rachel. They’re always excellent and when I’m grading, I look forward to reading yours. You’re very intelligent – has anyone ever told you that?” I don’t know if anyone had ever told me that. I got good grades and I knew I was smart, but to receive that praise from someone I so deeply admire and respect meant the world to me. It gave me confidence. It made me feel capable. Ever since then, I’ve never been afraid to go for something that I think is out of my league. I’m not afraid to aim big. I’m not afraid to ask, and I’m not afraid to show up in spaces where I don’t feel “good enough” to be in. Dr. Lupo also taught me to never apologize for asking a question. I remember one class saying “Sorry I have a question” – and she stopped me and said, “Why would you be sorry? Never apologize for asking a question. You are always allowed to ask”. I learned to not apologize for taking up space. Now, when I’m the youngest member of my FBI Citizen’s Academy class by two decades, or I attend committee meetings on the 22nd floor of the Procopio Tower with very impressive people in San Diego, and I feel like a kid playing dress up, I go ahead anyways with my head held high because I know that I’m allowed to be at that table. Thank you Dr. Lupo!
Some photos taken by: Sara Freitag – Sara Ruth Photography Sararuthphoto.com