35 Dream Jobs

35 Dream Jobs:

About this project

Illustration by April Y. Kasulis.

With global youth unemployment on the rise, we asked young people around the world to share their experiences on our YouthVoices platform. The following 35 stories celebrate the resilience and personal triumphs within the difficult journey from education to employment and, perhaps, landing a dream job.

Each of these young people are portrayed as they envision themselves in the future – carrying out their dream jobs. The illustrations, crafted by Minneapolis-based artist and designer April Y. Kasulis, are drawn from photos of the actual writers. Through visual movement, they reflect the passion each young person has for their respective industries and the dedication it takes to pursue them.

Dear reader,

The stakes are high. If there’s anything this year has taught us, it’s that the need for truthful, unbiased, on-the-ground journalism is more vital than ever. 

By strengthening journalism, we strengthen democracy. We can only restore what feels so broken with the truth. With a shared set of facts about our communities.

With your help, GroundTruth will field over 300 local and global reporters to restore journalism from the ground up in 2021. From now until Dec. 31, our challenge donors will triple your donation. Will you join us and make a gift today?

35 Dream Jobs:

Looking for a way to afford medical school

Illustration by April Y. Kasulis.

Name: Ntipa Chola

Age: 18

Dream Job: Surgeon

City, Country: Lusaka, Zambia

Current job/school: Math tutor

Challenge: Can’t afford university

I have always wanted to help people in any way possible. I feel so much compassion for those who are in a bad place.

In high school, I served as a first aid medic for three years in the Red Cross, where I learned how to treat bites, swollen limbs, wounds and those who fainted – I would help people with their most immediate needs before they were taken to the hospital. This is where my passion for biology comes from, and I have wanted to be a surgeon ever since.

But I’ve encountered a lot of challenges. My parents are unable to pay for my higher education and already struggle to pay for my siblings to go to school. In Zambia, elementary school is free, but many students end up paying for private school because the government offers only a limited number of seats.

The financial struggle causes a lot of people to discourage me from pursuing the medical industry. They say that I am just wasting my time, and my father keeps telling me that I should become a police officer. My personality just isn’t suited for a job like that – it doesn’t interest me.

Now that I’m out of school, life is becoming tough. It’s hard to find a job that will help me save for my university costs, plus the unemployment rate in Zambia is overwhelming. Retail companies are hiring receptionists and sales associates at shopping malls nearby, but they’re demanding experience that I don’t have. I currently work as a math tutor for children age 10 to 18, but the pay isn’t enough to save for university.

Still, I hope to enroll myself into medical school. If I can do that, I’m convinced that a beautiful future awaits me.

35 Dream Jobs:

Storytelling for social change

Illustration by April Y. Kasulis.

Name: Débora Souza Silva

Age: 35

Dream Job: Documentary filmmaker and social entrepeneur

City, Country: Oakland, California

Current job/school: Independent journalist

Challenge: Funding reporting projects

Being from Brazil, I have always wondered why there is so much social inequality in the world. For me, the story doesn’t end once it’s published or read – that’s often just the start of my journey.

I recently reported from Colombia through a journalism fellowship, where there has been five decades of conflict between the government and guerrilla groups. One story never left me: there were two teenage siblings, age 16 and 14, who suffered unspeakable crimes.

They were sexually assaulted by a group of guerrilla fighters and gave birth to the children they conceived that night on the same day. As they became mothers, they had no choice but to drop out of school to make time for work and childcare. They eventually fled their homes in order to protect themselves.

They went from a calm, rural farm life where they were able to grow their own food to a lifestyle of near homelessness – everyday, finding something to eat was a struggle.

When I met them in March, they were living in a city thousands of miles away from their hometown. They felt hopeless. This family could barely afford their rent and lived in constant fear of eviction. The older sister sells lottery tickets on the streets and makes less than one dollar a day. The younger sister, now 16, works as a prostitute and recently gave birth to her second child.

Colombia has one of the highest rates of internally displaced people in the world – second only to Syria. Almost 6 million people are reported as displaced because of  the ongoing armed conflict. Colombia is home to nearly 500,000 victims of sexual violence. Sadly, the sisters have gone through both.

I came back from this reporting trip knowing that something more than just a story needed to be done. My goal is to use journalism to raise awareness and funds for helping victims of rape and displacement in Colombia.

It took me near 15 years to figure out a career path that would make my heart race.  I always knew I wanted to be a journalist, but it wasn’t until the reporting process revealed widespread social disparity that I discovered my true mission.

But my biggest challenge is funding these projects. Most of the time, I end up using my own financial resources to report on these issues.

35 Dream Jobs:

Navigating a dream job that doesn't pay enough

Illustration by April Y. Kasulis.

Name: Adriene Cabalinan

Age: 24

Dream job: Documentary filmmaker

City, Country: Midsayap, Philippines

Current job/school: Knowledge management officer at a humanitarian organization

Challenge: Low wages in the documentary film industry

My dream job is to travel around the Philippines to document amazing and inspiring untold stories through film. This has been my dream since the first documentary film I watched on National Geographic Channel when I was 12 years old. The National Geographic team visited tribes in Africa and filmed their cultures. While watching that documentary, I vowed that one day I would do the same in my country – and I did.

I had my first job as a researcher at the most awarded TV documentary program in my country. I went around the country to film noteworthy stories about the struggles and hardships of Filipino people, and some inspirational stories too. In one of the stories we covered, I saw how an 11-year-old boy from the Manobo tribe in Davao del Norte cut down trees from the mountains, cut them into logs, carried the heavy logs on his shoulders for almost two hours to get to the road, and then waited for the buyer, who paid very little for all that hard work.

Stories like these deserve to be told to the rest of the world. Stories like these, I believe, should be the ones to get attention from the government and the general public. Documentary films can be a powerful medium to achieve just that.

The whole time I was with the documentary team was wonderful — I was living my dream. The hard part was not thinking of my finances. The wages I was getting were not enough to support my parents and siblings. Another hindrance was the really short airtime allotted for our film to be shown on national television. Sometimes it is difficult to compress a story into the required running time just to satisfy the mandate of TV, but that’s just how it is.

For practical reasons, I am now working for a private corporation that offers a much better salary, which helps my family a lot. But my passion for documentary filmmaking is still burning wildly inside of me, and I am worried that one day this fire will slowly die down because I will fail to continue fueling it.

But I am not losing hope. I have longed for this job since I was 12, and somehow I achieved it. Some unavoidable reasons led me away from my dream job, but I believe the same passion will lead me back.

35 Dream Jobs:

Sacrificing to make a difference

Illustration by April Y. Kasulis.

Name: Francis Kessy

Age: 26

Dream Job: United Nations diplomat

City, Country: Dar es Salaam, Tanzania

Current job/school: General manager of Agripro Tanzania Limited

Challenge: Lack of networking connections

I work nonstop to achieve my dream of becoming a diplomat in the United Nations. I still remember my first day at the University of Dar es Salaam – I was new to the city and already worried about finding my first job after graduation.

My hard work always brought me opportunities down the line. In those few years, I never took a day off. I started interning for an NGO called Twaweza, which is focused on the positive development of education and technology in Africa. One year later, I joined a youth program and organized a campaign for tax justice. It was part of a course called “global change,” which I was invited to after spending time on a United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) Tanzania panel, where I started a project that informed secondary school students about HIV/AIDS.

At the beginning of my third year of university, I was busy traveling to the International Conference on Family Planning in Ethiopia on scholarship. My friends back at school started calling me and warning that this was the hardest year of university yet, but I was too busy campaigning – in fact, I missed the first three weeks of that school year. Just when I thought I was getting caught up, I received the rare opportunity to go to Rwanda for the Peace Building Institute in the middle of the semester – then I traveled to Kenya for leadership conventions. I was very busy, but I had a mission to fulfill.

I finished school in 2014 – a real success. But with success came a real challenge: after graduating, I started working for an agribusiness company focused on training farmers how to properly and safely use pesticides. My job was to bring them to Zambia. It was one of the worst experiences of my life.

The company fell apart while I was in Zambia and didn’t pay me for two months. No one picked up the phone. When I reached out to their partner company, they hardly cared – they only gave me bread and tea, and at the time, I felt fortunate because they gave me office keys so that I’d have some place to sleep. I started commuting to them everyday on an 8-kilometer walk, and sometimes I had to ask my friends for money. Their generosity is what kept me alive.

Despite all the hardship, I stayed with the company because I was afraid that I wouldn’t be able to find another job. I am now a their general manager. Looking back at those dark days, I feel strong.

Through my job, I’m committed to sustainable development and the empowerment of women and youth. My greatest dream is still to work for the United Nations or be a diplomat – this is all that I want. I believe that day will come.

35 Dream Jobs:

Turning corruption into action

Illustration by April Y. Kasulis.

Name: Zahrina Ghassani Diyanda

Age: 23

Dream job: Government public asset manager

City, Country: Jakarta, Indonesia

Current job/school: Management support for a real estate company

Challenge: Reversing corruption in an unpopular industry

People have always told me that my dream to become a government public asset manager is unrealistic. However, I believe in the power of a dream.

Though most people may not know it, Indonesia is a rich country – it has physical assets worth more than a billion rupiah, according to our Ministry of Finance. If I’m able to manage all of those assets, I can convert them into resources that can be used to fulfill our needs as a society and deliver important public services. With this value, I envision building affordable housing and schools, improving infrastructure and erecting hospitals in Indonesia.

Unfortunately, our wealth of natural resources comes with a big problem – the government does not manage these assets properly, and we yield a smaller profit and less benefits as a nation because of it. There is also corruption in asset management. Land is being used for government workers’ personal needs instead of for the greater good of the public, operation costs are too high, data that could inform policy changes are unreliable or nonexistent and there is an ambiguous legal framework that doesn’t force people to be ethical.

By managing assets in a way that allows Indonesia to prosper, I can address our inequality issue. Many people are still suffering in poverty, and in order to prove ourselves as a developed nation, we must properly use our land and infrastructure to help them.

To reach this dream job, I’m currently working in management support at a property and real estate company. This job allows me to gain relevant experience working with assets.

This is an emerging field, and most of society doesn’t recognize the importance of managing assets for the greater good. I am not sure what other challenges may emerge, because asset management is widely unknown and working for the government is both competitive and difficult in my home country. As a government asset manager, I would also have to navigate working in a corruption environment.

But I believe in my dream and my my good will. Every positive act creates a positive result. As my mother says: if I have the intention to help people and serve our country, there will always be a way to make it come true.

35 Dream Jobs:

Using technology to combat climate change

Illustration by April Y. Kasulis.

Name: Jacob Jewel C. Tabo

Age: 20

Dream Job: Engineer

City, Country: Antipolo City, Philippines

Current job/school: Electronics engineering student

Challenge: Lack of access to travel

In our house, I used to make sure that I was the last one to go to bed. It was so that I could turn off the lights and rest assured that we weren’t wasting energy as we slept. The routine was tiresome. I’d turn off the main light switch, then fumble around in the dark until I got to the other side of the house, where I’d turn on a smaller, dimmer light so that my family could see if they had to get up.

Then I used my basic engineering knowledge to build a dark-sensitive LED light. Now, every time I turn off the main light, the LED light will automatically turn on and I can go to sleep.

It’s just an example of the little things I can do to solve problems around me.

We’re experiencing a lot of problems in today’s world – climate change, violence, crime, corruption and poverty are just some of them. I want to be an engineer because I want to use technology to fix these things. I don’t dream of becoming famous – I dream of becoming someone who actually does something for this world.

I believe that climate change can be addressed by anyone. As an engineering student, I can help solve global warming by applying engineering theories I learn in class to the world around me. I want to look into both conservation efforts and how we can harness sustainable energy from different sources.

But to be truly effective, I need to become a global engineer. I must explore countries outside of the Philippines and see how others are solving these problems, then bring those solutions to my home country. But I don’t have the financial resources to do that yet. Last month, I was supposed to go to an international competition on Energy Innovation in Singapore. I wasn’t able to go because we were invited to the competition on short notice and my passport didn’t arrive on time. I don’t know when I’ll get another opportunity because traveling is too expensive for me – but, on the bright side, our team won second place.

The good news is that there is still so much to learn as a university student here in the Philippines. As they say, “a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” I still try my best to find solutions for smaller problems I see around me everyday, and I’m holding hope for the future.

35 Dream Jobs:

Informing the public through TV news

Illustration by April Y. Kasulis.

Name: Mercy Muwaneyi

Age: 19

Dream Job: Journalist

City, Country: Lusaka, Zambia

Current job/school: High school student

Challenge: Discouraging environment

I was brought up in Kalabo, Zambia, a rural town with many pessimists – people who believe that people like myself can’t go far in life. Despite that, I’ve always believed in my abilities to achieve great things.

Between choosing a simple or tough assignment, I always go for a tough one – challenges stretch my potential.

Since I was a child, I’ve always wanted to be a journalist. I believe that it’s my calling to serve people by giving them important information – instead of prioritizing money. Public service is my number one priority, and I know that I can add value to the industry by being an effective communicator and keeping the public informed.

Over the years, I have been working hard at school so that I can have a successful future in journalism. I watch TV news and practice reporters’ voices, gestures and overall communication style. I am also part of Children International’s Community Youth Reporters Program here in Zambia, which empowers us to report on various issues in our communities. Recently, we worked on a piece about a group called Youth Council and how they donated goods to children with disabilities.

I won’t let anything stand in my way – journalism is very dear to me, and giving it up is like shooting myself in the foot. The only way that I won’t succeed is if I allow self defeat. I won’t.


35 Dream Jobs:

Saving the environment through engineering

Illustration by April Y. Kasulis.

Name: Karianne Bag-ayan

Age: 18

Dream Job: Engineer

City, Country: Baguio City, Philippines

Current job/school: Agricultural engineering student

Challenge: Financial difficulties, pressure from parents

When I was 5 years old, my father let me help him plant a garden in the front yard. A worm wriggled on a mound of soil and I started playing with it. My father told me that the worm was helping the plants grow – I stared at it, amazed at the wonders of nature, and this is when I knew that I was going to work with the environment as an adult.

As I got older, I saw again and again that the earth is dying. I saw documentaries and heard speeches about melting polar ice caps, forest fires, pollution – animals perishing because of their changed environments. I now study agricultural engineering at my university, which is the closest that I can get to my true dream of environmental engineering. I attend a state university, which is subsidized with government aid, and this is the only relevant program they offer.

But I’m always discouraged by the lack of innovation in my home country, the Philippines. There isn’t enough support for science or research here as a whole, and the Philippines is slow to protect its environment. There are also so many great minds ignored among us – for example, Daniel Dingel, the Filipino inventor of the hydrogen reactor used in water-fueled cars.

What’s the point of creating a solution for the environment if no one uses it? Why should I get into this field when it seems like no one else is trying to?

Even my parents have pressured me to pursue something else – they wanted me to become an accountant-lawyer, but after I failed the courses, they told me to shift my attention to achieving cum laude under my current major.

But these are just obstacles that I must overcome.

I desperately want to be sure that I can become something and that I can affect even the slightest bit of change. I don’t want to be a failure. My next step will be to get a master’s degree in environmental engineering and combine agricultural engineering and environmental engineering in an innovative tech dream job.

35 Dream Jobs:

Paying it forward with a passion for tech

Illustration by April Y. Kasulis.

Name: Rodrigo Elías Monge Rivas

Age: 20

Dream Job: Computers and networks engineer

City, Country: Ciudad Merliot, El Salvador

Current job/school: Computer switching and routing college student

Challenge: Financial difficulty

After school, I used to wait for my brother and my parents. We’d meet up and then go home together. To cope with my own boredom, I helped teachers log their students’ grades for a few months. Eventually, a computing teacher offered to coach me through some basic computer maintenance and taught me computing skills. That’s where my interest for technology was born – a passion that grew so obvious that I was eventually awarded a scholarship to study it in college, where I am now.

The scholarship has changed my life – without it, I would never be able to pursue my dreams. My mother and father weren’t employed at the time and we survived by selling many of our possessions. My father was holding onto his car to pawn off as an emergency fund.

While my college schedule still allowed it, I helped out where I could by working part-time as a taxi driver and as a technical support specialist. I try to help them financially by taking care of myself and, when I can, by paying for our groceries. I also made time to volunteer and teach basic computing skills to kids as a way of giving back.

In Merliot City, where I live now, everybody is looking for a job. For a while, it felt like I was looking everywhere and couldn’t find any opportunities. Now, I have hope; recently, a call center noticed my computing and English skills and offered me a job for when I graduate. Can you imagine how many computers are there? I’m excited to be a part of their internal tech support and assist so many accounts and employees.

When I work there, I will finally be doing what I love. I want to use my earnings to give back and help my family, stimulate the development of smaller businesses and share computing knowledge with others.

35 Dream Jobs:

Inspiring other young Filipinos

Illustration by April Y. Kasulis.

Name: Fatima Nicole R. Intal

Age: 17

Dream job: Motivational coach

City, Country: Manila, Philippines

Current job/school: Civil engineering college student

Challenge: The dedication and sacrifice required to achieve this dream

I’m the type of person who lives the simplest of lives, but dreams the scariest of dreams. I am so motivated to do and achieve things that are beyond my limitations, and there is this one thing that really keeps me going: inspiration. Inspiration is what has caused millions of spectacular ideas, great plans and creative movements.

I am so driven, and I have so many plans for my life. Today I’m studying for a profession as a civil engineer at the Technological Institute of the Philippines, but I don’t want to limit myself from dreaming other jobs. I want to be a cook, a teacher, a flight attendant, a preacher and even a prestigious interior designer – and I believe I will be all of those someday.

Our capabilities are endless. We can keep on learning and growing, and the more we do, the more we realize that we really can be whatever we want to be. The biggest problem I have ever experienced, with regards to achieving my dreams, is the lack of inspiration. Every day I witness other people go through this same problem. Our system fails to teach students that even if we receive an education and financial support, the most important element, still, is our ability to be driven and inspired.

And so, my dream job is to be someone that will encourage people – especially young people – to become inspired dreamers. At school, I came up with an idea for a program called “Be Inspired, Be Inspiring,” or the BiBi Program. It would target companies, groups or even individuals as clients, and help them overcome personal issues.

The program would focus on inspiring people so they can be much more efficient in their work and lives. There would be a three-day retreat with different activities (talks, interactive sessions, team-building activities, etc.). I also plan to pursue other activities or events to reach certain communities, and perhaps produce merchandise (like key chains, bag tags, statement shirts, etc.) that will help raise awareness of the program or simply stress the aim of the program itself.

But of course, I cannot do this on my own, so I plan to reach out to certain individuals who may help me to pursue this program. It may be considered volunteer work or become a business venture. Perhaps with the right amount of time, effort and support, the BiBi Program will start its wave of inspiration.

35 Dream Jobs:

Saving up money to become a computer engineer

Illustration by April Y. Kasulis.

Name: Levy Mbewe

Age: 22

Dream job: Computer engineer

City, Country: Lusaka, Zambia

Current job/school: Studying information systems, coaching kids part-time

Challenge: Financial difficulties

I always wanted to pursue a career in information systems and programming. Inspired by Bill Gates and Steve Jobs, I would stand in front of the mirror and imagine myself to be the computer genius the world was waiting for. But this was the opposite of what my mother imagined. She suggested I study with the Chartered Institute of Procurement and Supply (CIPS), to learn how to “buy” on behalf of an organization.

On my very first day of class at a local college, I hardly understood a thing, and it was so hard to pay attention to the lecturer. I tried to force myself to concentrate, but my head was as hard as a mine rock. For two years, I pursued these business studies. It was interesting, but didn’t give me any deep satisfaction. It was challenging financially – and physically, too. I walked three miles in the burning sun each way to get there and back every day.

This experience taught me perseverance and firm character, and to not easily give up on my dream. A turning point came when I found a job coaching children in technology, sciences and mathematics. I teach the students to use the tablets that deliver the lessons, I facilitate the sessions and I offer assistance on mathematics-related problems. It’s more than a job to me – it fulfills my purpose to give back to the community, and it opened a door to my long-desired career, reviving a dream that was shuttered.

The money I am earning is helping me save, so I can finally pursue a career in information systems and programming. I believe the right man for the job is not a man with degrees and Ph.D.s, but a man with the passion to make a living out of what interests him. I strongly believe that all things are possible with determination, and that nothing is as powerful as a positive mind.

35 Dream Jobs:

Seeking a degree put on hold by tragedy

Illustration by April Y. Kasulis.

Name: Zeanna Alexis Smith

Age: 22

Dream Job: Human Resources Manager

City, Country: Cavite, Philippines

Current job/school: Human Resources Associate

Challenge: Can’t afford university

My world crashed around me in 2010, when I was still in high school. My mother suffered from a stroke and half of her body became paralyzed. Before then, I depended on her financially and emotionally. I remember being in the hospital and waking up to the real world, and all of these questions were on my mind – “Who am I going to run to when I’m sick? Who’s going to take care of me? How am I going to get money and live?”

All I knew was one thing: I was alone and I had to do something to get on my two feet again.

I finished high school with the help of my aunt, but the money that she sent was barely enough to cover my mother’s medicine. I had no choice but to leave college in the middle of my freshman year and look for a job. Finding one wasn’t easy.

I applied to several fast food chains and boutique stores, but no one would hire me. I was really losing hope at the time – I’d cry every night and think about selling my body, but then would tell myself that I’m too fat and unqualified to even do that. When I think back to it now, I understand that my younger self genuinely didn’t believe that I could do this – that I could help my family.

After many unanswered applications, I got a job as a customer representative at a call center. I’ve always had confidence in my English and my mother used to be a customer service representative herself, so it felt like the right path.

Now, I’ve been working in this industry since 2012 and I’m convinced that I’ve almost achieved my dream job. I’m now a human resources recruiter and associate at one of the biggest call center companies in the Philippines. Even though the salary isn’t as big as other companies, I stay here for the work culture – my colleagues are like family to me, and I could never imagine leaving them.

But my lasting friendships aside, I’m facing a roadblock. I’m not making enough money to continue to take care of both my mother and myself. My dream job is to become a human resources manager and I know that I’m ready for a promotion, but there are essentially no opportunities for those without college degrees to move up.

I’m stuck: I’m not making enough money to take care of my mother, nor am I making enough to save for college and get that degree.

Education is priceless – it’s something that no one can ever take from me. I want to be proud that I earned a degree someday, but the doors have never been open for me.

35 Dream Jobs:

Not giving up on dreams of becoming a filmmaker

Illustration by April Y. Kasulis.

Name: Khensani Ruth Mahwayi

Age: 23

Dream job: Filmmaker (producing, directing, scriptwriting)

City, Country: Johannesburg, South Africa

Current job/school: Not working or studying

Challenge: Can’t afford university

I have a raw passion for storytelling. I have always been a writer, but I fell in love with scriptwriting when I was 17, in grade 11 in 2010. I was part of a drama club called “Mzansi slash” at school. At first, I joined as an actor, but as time went by, I applied and volunteered to do the writing. I wasn’t really cutting it as an actor, and I was more interested in the behind-the-scenes and technical part of it.

I didn’t know much about scriptwriting, but the producer and the rest of the team were wonderful — they took me through the whole process and I loved it. Sadly, the club fell apart when most of the leaders graduated that year. The following year, I also passed my matric (the exams required to graduate) and left school. But I never stopped writing.

I hoped to pursue a career in film and television after matric. My family wouldn’t hear any of it. For three years, I tried to please my family. They wanted me in the health sciences, my father especially. It was one regret letter after the next. Any acceptance letter came with a regret letter from the financial assistance people. My family couldn’t afford to pay my fees – both of my parents are unemployed – and the NSFAS (National Student Financial Aid Scheme) always rejected me. It was one emotional rollercoaster.

It was only in 2015 that I decided to actually follow my dreams and move away from the dreams of my family. I applied to the Tshwane University of Technology to study for a diploma in film and television production. I was excited when I was invited for an interview in August. I believed I aced it, but I was rejected without an explanation. That hurt a lot, but I never gave up. In January, I tried again with Boston Media House, and I applied for a Mo Flava bursary (scholarship). Yet again, another disappointment.

I came to terms with the fact that I wasn’t going to be studying this year. It’s my fourth year at home, unemployed. I promised myself I would try again next year and I intend on keeping that promise. In the meantime, I am writing, writing and writing. I am going to do whatever it takes to achieve my goals and pursue a career in film and TV, because I honestly cannot imagine myself doing anything else.

35 Dream Jobs:

Writing books that inspire others

Illustration by April Y. Kasulis.

Name: Sarah M. Chiteta

Age: 21

Dream job: Writer

City, Country: Lusaka, Zambia

Current job/school: Part-time math tutor

Challenge: Lack of role models, financial difficulties

I may not have the means to help people, but writing is one way of reaching out and comforting people in various situations. I started writing at the age of 10, and being among friends with the same writing talent, I eventually became keen on writing poems, including motivational notes, which are messages to uplift or encourage people facing challenges or low self esteem.

I have also written songs and composed my own tunes. The songs I have composed so far include “You Are the Light,” which has been performed by a local choir on several occasions. I also wrote “We Are One” with the help of my friends. It was a dedication to the victims of xenophobia.

Since then, I have been dreaming of publishing a book one day. With this aspiration, I am in the process of writing a book titled “Life Is a Journey,” about how one overcomes obstacles faced along the road called life. I am determined to finish this book no matter how long it takes.

I would love to write motivational books – books to encourage the young, the old, boys and girls – to make them realize that life is a journey and that it will only take one step and their destiny is made. I also want to write about the community I live in, the challenges it faces, how people manage to survive despite encountering many problems or being without basic needs.

Currently, I work part-time coaching students between the ages of 10 and 16 in mathematics. I work for an organization called Edulution. My great challenge is not having a chance to talk to professional writers and get inspired by their success stories in writing. Looking at the state of my community, it is difficult to find someone to inspire me.

I feel writing is one of the ways that enables people to have freedom of expression. I believe it’s a way of helping people understand that while on this journey, whatever obstructions that come our way, we should keep moving.

35 Dream Jobs:

Giving people access to menstrual hygiene

Illustration by April Y. Kasulis.

Name: Nadya Okamoto

Age: 18

Dream job: Advocate for change

City, Country: Portland, Oregon, USA

Current job/school: University student, founder of a feminine hygiene nonprofit

Challenge: The amount of preparation and cost of education

In the spring of my freshman year of high school, I suddenly found myself “legally homeless.” Over baked broccoli and polenta, my mother explained that we could no longer afford our home. Four days later, our belongings in storage, we moved into a friend’s attic across town. My life was reduced to a backpack and a single suitcase.

Though I attended an exclusive private school on scholarship, I had no legal address. I had to give up dance and piano, take a job to cover expenses, and spend four hours a day on buses. Though I worked harder than ever before, I witnessed my grades dip and social life suffer.

My sophomore year began with a history class that focused on quality of life, exploring how financial stability, health and social relationships contribute to wellbeing. The class made me reflect deeply on the wizened faces of homeless women I saw during my long commute. I started talking with these women as they visited shelters and a local soup kitchen where I volunteered.

I learned that though I was legally “homeless” like them, unlike them, I was blessed to have physical safety, a supportive family and an educational community. I was shocked to discover an unaddressed need of the homeless female population: menstrual hygiene. These women told me of using paper bags, discarded clothing and toilet paper during their monthly cycles, all strategies that carry a high risk of infection and toxic shock syndrome. I began to purchase feminine hygiene products with money I earned through work to hand out to the homeless women I encountered.

My despair at my family’s living situation slowly transformed into determination. As my family regained stability, I founded Camions of Care, a nonprofit that strives to address the natural needs of all women. Camions of Care is now a global youth-run nonprofit. In the last year and a half, our network of over 2,200 volunteers has distributed over 22,000 care packages of feminine hygiene products to 40 nonprofit partners in 17 different states and nine different countries.

I am filled with motivation to create sustainable social change for a more equitable and just future. I believe the best way to enact this change is by changing the system itself, which points me in the direction of politics and advocacy. What stands is my way is connecting with larger audiences for my advocacy, and continuing to pay for my education, though I will start at Harvard University this fall.

35 Dream Jobs:

Finding the next technological breakthrough

Illustration by April Y. Kasulis.

Name: Michael Reyes

Age: 18

Dream job: Founder and CEO of a tech company

City, Country: Manila, Philippines

Current job/school: University student

Challenge: Financial difficulties, finding a mentor

My dream job is to become the founder and CEO of a corporation that can compete with the world’s leading technological companies like Facebook, Google, Apple and Microsoft. This has been my dream since I started admiring their contributions in technology when I was a kid. Their inventions have created breakthroughs and revolutionary advancements in technology, and also in simplifying our daily tasks. Their brilliant creations have helped billions of people worldwide.

That’s why I am determined to fulfill this dream, not for fame or popularity, but to help other people. I am always using inventions and gadgets developed by other people, and I am continually astonished by how these ideas can be very helpful in solving specific problems and in making people’s lives simpler.

There are challenges that I face in making my dream job possible. The very first hindrance in achieving my dream is the financial problem. With my current financial situation, I am barely making it, in terms of paying the required reasonable tuition fees at the Technological Institute of the Philippines, and almost not having enough money for additional school expenses.

Another challenge is my need for mentoring support from experienced technopreneurs, and my fear of failure. But I am confident that I will not falter in attaining my dream job due to these difficulties. I can fulfill my whole-hearted purpose of helping other people through my ideas and inventions someday, because my passion of helping them will not burn out and will always be here inside me.

35 Dream Jobs:

Putting dreams of becoming a journalist on hold

Illustration by April Y. Kasulis.

Name: Ruth Nyambe

Age: 18

Dream job: Journalist

City, Country: Lusaka, Zambia

Current job/school: Applying to college

Challenge: Financial difficulties

As a young lady, I have a lot of dreams, but the most important one is to study mass communication. I realized my interest in journalism as a young child, seeing journalists on television. I have come to appreciate the role the media plays in society, that of educating, entertaining and informing.

I want to be among the people who keep the masses well informed about what is going on around them. I know that an accurate story leads to a well-informed nation and world at large. Through my career, I want to reveal hidden truths of national interest, and be the voice for members of the public, regardless of their status in society.

In my community, a lot of girls have given up on their dreams for various reasons, like early marriages and peer pressure. This makes me want to stand out with my education and later inspire young people. I successfully completed my high school with the help of Children International Zambia, which provided for my academic needs.

I now dream of studying mass communication at the University of Zambia, but my mother has advised me to study water engineering, so I have applied to Zambia’s best college dealing with agriculture, the Natural Resources Development College. I was called in for interviews, which went well, but my chances of getting a scholarship here in Zambia are very low.

Tuition at the Natural Resources Development College is 5,735 Zambian kwacha (about $1,100) per semester. I live in a single-parent household and my mother does not work, making it difficult to afford my tertiary education, as she is still struggling to provide for my older and younger siblings’ academic needs. This has made it difficult for me to apply to higher learning institutions, despite having good qualifications.

I am in a challenging situation. The chance to study at a higher learning institution would be a life-changing opportunity. I want to be a living testimony that dreams can come true. Through mass communication, I want to be the change I wish to see in my community, country and world.

35 Dream Jobs:

Transitioning into a film career

Illustration by April Y. Kasulis.

Name: Leny Rose Bildan-Ayroso

Age: 30

Dream job: Writer and filmmaker

Location: Antipolo City, Philippines

Current job: Team leader at a telemarketing company

Challenge: Unsure of how to start pursuing dream

I want to become a writer and a filmmaker. Ten years ago, I set my dreams aside and jumped into the idea of “money first,” taking a job at a call center. I did not have grit at that time and I believed stories that I would not earn enough money by writing, and that I would need to know someone in order to break into the field.

I felt the need to help my family right away, and I thought I could pursue my passion later. Even before I got my bachelor’s degree in mass communication in 2006, I made up my mind to get a job as an outbound telemarketer. I now work at TELUS International in the Philippines.

I was itching to give my first salary to my mother. For almost 10 years, I’ve worked in what’s called BPO, “business process outsourcing,” getting promotions along the way. I believe that love is a choice, and I chose to love my work and accomplishments.

At present, I keep on searching for joys in what life has to offer outside my workplace. I got married two months ago and found out that I am five weeks pregnant. Truth be told, I never expected great happiness in this phase of my life. I never thought of a dream man, dream wedding, dream house with kids or a dream life as mother or wife. All I dreamt was to become a traveler, a writer, a vagabond filmmaker.

Once again, I am ready to settle where my reality is – as a wife and soon-to-be mother. But I asked myself: Is it not possible for my dream and reality to collide? A wife-writer, a mother-filmmaker? One day, I hope share my writing with the world, but for now, I am uncertain how to begin.

35 Dream Jobs:

Erasing the stigma of mental health treatment

Illustration by April Y. Kasulis.

Name: Caitlin Rose Smart

Age: 19

Dream job: Mental health advocate

City, Country: Auckland, New Zealand

Current job/school: University student, call center worker

Challenge: Low-paying field

I personally believe that those who are the most passionate about something were first deeply affected by it.

I have struggled with mental health for nearly half of my life. There have been times when I wasn’t sure if I’d live to see the calendar change to 2016, let alone the next morning. I belong to the 16 percent of adults in New Zealand who been diagnosed with a mental disorder in their lifetime, according to the Ministry of Health. That number is only increasing.

Beyond the struggle itself, I understand the distress that others feel when they must navigate stigma against treatment. My life’s mission is to encourage people to focus on their mental well-being, advocate for those who do struggle with mental health and fight against stigma by increasing awareness. Although my work is voluntary right now, not paid, I hope to find a way to someday support myself through this work.

Part of the problem is that I haven’t seen a job that fits what I do. I want to develop campaigns that fight stigma and talk to policymakers in the mental health sector. However, this kind of work is contractual, short term and reliant on funding. It doesn’t pay well, either, so I’ll have to keep working on my budget cooking skills!

But in some ways, I am already a mental health advocate. I’m currently collaborating with others on creative spoken word about the superpowers that people gain from their experiences with mental distress. I’m also adding a health and well-being zone to Festival for the Future, a conference focused on youth development in New Zealand. It’s going to be a safe space for people who get too overwhelmed at the conference, plus a place for people to learn more about self-care.

I will continue to study statistics in college. Data analysis is vital to any field, and I know my quantitative skill set will be helpful to public health organizations in New Zealand. It’s quite possible that I’ll start off analyzing mental health data and then communicate it to professionals, policy makers and the public.

Just by dedicating myself to this mission, I am able to prove that people can be successful, even if their brain is a little different. Confronting your mental health issues is nothing to be afraid of or ashamed of – I need to make sure that this message is heard.

35 Dream Jobs:

Bringing power to the Philippines

Illustration by April Y. Kasulis.

Name: Cedric Dela Cruz

Age: 21

Dream Job: Government engineer

City, Country: Pasig City, Philippines

Current job/school: University student

Challenge: Lack of engineering jobs in the Philippines

I am Filipino. I was raised with the moral obligation to serve my country. We all walk these streets with “pakikipagkapwa-tao” – Tagalog for solidarity or a shared identity. For this reason, I want my neighbors and future children to live in a Philippines that is significantly better than the one I see now.

I dream of seeing every Filipino have the privilege of electricity – according to the World Bank, about 12 percent of Filipinos lived without power as of 2012. Electricity is important because it gives children access technology, which will then let them learn and grow up to be technically-sound people who develop our country for the better. I dream of the day where they don’t live in the dark anymore. Their success is my success – their story is my story.

My dream job is to work for the government as an engineer who develops technology that can benefit Filipinos in all walks of life. I’m currently studying engineering at the Technological Institute of the Philippines, but I worry about finding a job once I graduate.

The Philippines is one of the world’s greatest workforce exporters, and that means that our scientists and engineers often outsource their services to countries abroad. It’s quite disheartening to see that your very own countrymen tend to serve other countries rather than stay here and work for ours. They play a vital role in the development of our country, and they are the difference from continuing to be a third world country and becoming the next first world country.

We are an agricultural nation that pays little attention to innovation, but what if we gave farmers the technological advancements they need to improve? What if our government invested in giving opportunities to agricultural scientists and agricultural engineers?

That’s my dream – to help my home country develop. Hopefully, it won’t just be a dream. Even though I’m still in school, I’m already talking with my classmates about our common goals for this country. I may not be special, but I am determined to be a part of that change.

35 Dream Jobs:

Transforming Zambian health care

Illustration by April Y. Kasulis.

Name: Teddy Mukuka

Age: 16

Dream Job: Surgeon

City, Country: Lusaka, Zambia

Current job/school: High school student

Challenge: Can’t afford university

My dream is to become a surgeon and help advance the medical services in Zambia. In my community, there aren’t many role models to look up to. It’s rare to hear about success stories and people who had the privilege of a great education. Instead, I often hear about young people roaming the streets, involved with substance abuse or theft.

If I had someone to look up to, I’d feel less anxious about accomplishing my dream.

I understand what it means to work hard, and I want to be a surgeon so that I can help advance Zambia’s medical system. If our health care system improves, I believe our country will become more attractive for its safety. However, there are few opportunities for me to get involved with medicine or gain the right experience. But it hasn’t discouraged me – I’m convinced that I can make it.

A lot of people around me – including neighbors, family and friends – have different career paths, so they think they know what’s best for me. Sometimes, this depresses me because I expect full support from them. They try to convince me to become a teacher instead, but that just isn’t my dream.

My main challenge is money. Education has become way too expensive for our generation, especially for people like me who are coming from a middle class family and have other siblings. I doubt that my guardians will be able to afford my university education – they already face difficulties covering our academic needs now.

To reach my goal, I chose pure sciences and mathematics at school so that I might be eligible for a university scholarship after my grade 12 national exams. There are some chances for people like me to get scholarships from the government, but it’s probably one out of a billion. Great fear strikes me when I think about the lucky ones who get a scholarship – I need this to make my dream career into a reality.

It is my devout hope to be one of the best surgeons, a good role model and an inspiration to young people who will go through what I am experiencing now. And just because no one believes in me doesn’t mean that I’ll stop. I will build hospitals and clinics in Zambia someday.

35 Dream Jobs:

Photographing life and war

Illustration by April Y. Kasulis.

Name: Mia Sheneth Daiz

Age: 12

Dream job: Photojournalist

City, Country: Quezon City, Philippines

Current job/school: 7th grade student

Challenge: Does not own a camera

I heard stories about my grandfather – he was a soldier.

He used his camera as his weapon; he didn’t just capture opponents but also real moments. He made the fighting a subject for his photography. It was really amazing.

Everything he photographed was in black and white — but later he was able to turn the images into color. I then realized that I wanted to be like my grandfather. I wanted to become a photographer.

There was a fire inside of me; a fire burning to become part of this profession. Then, I joined a program for youth reporters and the fire burned even more. I felt great. The opportunity turned out to be a big thing for me. I was overjoyed.

It was a spark inside of my heart, a dream I wanted so much to fulfill. And by that, I know this would be my life passion—particularly landscape photography.

Nature is classic. You can use it as background for your shots, creating an environmental art.

Not only that, the smiles on people’s faces also catch me. I want to bring them into my memory. And I wanted to let photographs do the job.

Photos are really beautiful. You get to read people’s expressions and emotions, even if they’re not moving.

I can feel what they’re feeling.

For me, photography is an expression of myself, the people’s emotions are the reflection of what I feel on the inside. And when I see photos captured from distant places, it seems like I was actually there. It’s like you have traveled from here to there in just a snap.

I feel overwhelmed whenever I get myself behind a camera. I feel like I am making my dreams come true. Holding it between my hands is like holding my dreams and making them alive.

35 Dream Jobs:

Documenting the world through a lens

Illustration by April Y. Kasulis.

Name: Mael Humberto Terán Cano

Age: 17

Dream job: International documentary filmmaker

City, Country: Quito, Ecuador

Current job/school: High school student; part-time worker at an internet cafe

Challenge: Financial difficulties

When I was a little boy, I participated in some art programs that Children International organized. I always liked theater and other activities where I met new friends. I stopped going to the events because I had to work as a carpenter, but more than a year ago I entered a program called Community Youth Reporters. This program was new, and I was told that it was for young people ages 14-19 to learn photography and how to produce videos.

I loved the idea and went directly to the organization to sign up. Unfortunately, I was told that the program had already started. I was discouraged, but I was told I could speak with the program coordinator. Because I was so interested, he told me that I could get in, but I also had to go during my school vacations so I could catch up on everything I had missed in two months.

The truth is I did not understand much at the beginning, but with time the advanced group included me and called on me to cover various events with photography and later to make videos. I had no idea whether or not I would be talented with the camera. The program coordinator always congratulated me and said I have talent, that I could be a great photographer or a film cameraman.

Currently, I know how to work a single-lens reflex camera in manual mode, and I can also make videos without focus problems. I know how to make continuing planes on a handheld camera, a Steadicam, and countless other things that have helped me gain understanding from all of my friends and from the program coordinator. Because of this I am always called on to support my community by producing news coverage about it.

Today, my economic situation is a bit difficult – I can’t count on the support of my parents and I do not have a stable job. I am still a high school student and I work part-time at my relative’s internet cafe, but I’ve also held previous jobs as a carpenter’s assistant, mechanic, printer, messenger, artisan and dishwasher.

I would say that the youth reporters program changed a part of my life. It helped me limit hours doing difficult work, which is not healthy for my age. Children International looks to give us life skills and to protect our rights through these programs.

I’m not exactly sure what to study in university, but there’s no doubt that film, photography, or social communication would be among my first choices.

35 Dream Jobs:

Teaching the next generation

Illustration by April Y. Kasulis.

Name: Ma. Jesusa Javier Torres

Age: 18

Dream job: Teacher

City, Country: Manila, Philippines

Current job/school: College student studying secondary education

Challenge: Financial difficulties

“All our dreams can come true if we have the courage to pursue them.” — Walt Disney

Everyone has an ambition, let me tell you mine.

In the future, I want to wake up early in the morning – and not only for my family or to only earn a living. I want to wake up knowing that my students are their inside the classroom waiting for me, their teacher.

Others say that becoming a teacher will not make me rich, but it’s not really about how much I’ll earn. I want to become a teacher because I want to inspire others. I will teach because I find teaching fun and because I love public speaking and. I’m sure that this is the only job that I want to do.

I want to teach because teaching has its own priceless rewards. You will get to see future leaders – maybe the next generation of scientists, or maybe some of them will be inspired by me and choose to become a teacher, too.

I want to teach because it’s more than just a job to me – it’s my calling. I will have the power to influence my students, to let them feel that learning can be fun.

But there are lots of factors that could hinder my dream. There are times when my family struggles financially, and other times I ask myself if I can really do it. I tell myself that maybe I’m not good enough, but I know that I will work hard enough to achieve my dream, no matter how difficult doing that is.

I am currently studying secondary education at my university and I’ve realized that no words can describe the feeling of this passion burning in my heart. Being a teacher is my ambition. I am a future teacher – without limits.

35 Dream Jobs:

Taking the unconventional career path

Illustration by April Y. Kasulis.

Name: Mariel (Mary Eleanor) Davis

Age: 29

Dream job: International development worker

City, Country: Cairo, Egypt (from New York City, USA)

Current job/school: Nonprofit communications and partnerships manager, graduate student studying management

Challenge: Keeping an open mind to unconventional career opportunities

I’m lucky enough to say that I have my “dream job” – everyday, I get to work on a crucial social issue in a part of the world that really matters to me. I lead global communications at Education For Employment, a youth employment network in the Middle East and North Africa.

I didn’t always know that my path would take the shape that it did. When I started at my organization five years ago, I expected to be working as an entry-level communications associate. When I started the job, however, I saw that I was the assistant to my organization’s founder and chairman – it wasn’t what I had in mind after graduating from college. I had put in grueling years at a specialized language study program, and I worried about that investment going to waste.  An executive assistant role just didn’t fit into the career path I had envisioned.

But it’s that first role that made my dream job possible. My boss ended up being a phenomenal role model and teacher. I had the opportunity to observe how he developed relationships, made strategic decisions and navigated the challenges of a social startup. He invested in my professional development and expected me to weigh in on important decisions — and he really listened. That was truly empowering – it was the best training I could have ever received.

I was able to later transition upward into other positions, largely because of the valuable skills I had developed in that first role – the one that I never sought to begin with. I’ll always be grateful that I had that chance, and that circumstances made me rethink my expectations and keep an open mind to alternative career opportunities.

35 Dream Jobs:

Bringing light to people living in the dark

Illustration by April Y. Kasulis.

Name: Ajay Levantino

Age: 22

Dream job: Hybrid street lights engineer

City, Country: Quezon City, Philippines

Current job/school: Student at the Technological Institute of the Philippines-Manila

Challenge: Lack of financial resources and government support

My dream job is to help my fellow Filipino people in rural areas by meeting their electrical needs. I want to develop hybrid, smart street lights using renewable sources of solar energy, wind energy and thermoelectric conversion. To save energy, these lights would have wireless sensors so that they only turn on when they detect the presence of a person, animal or car.

This will help people in some remote barangays (villages) who have no power lines and are only using diesel generators to power their homes. There are many remote towns and roads in our country with no street lights. This can endanger the lives of drivers, travelers and people trying to cross the streets.

Also, accidents can happen when drivers are being blinded by the high-beam lights from the other car in the opposite lane. I want to address this electricity poverty in some of our roads through my street lights. The main challenge that is before me is the lack of funding.

I can design a proof of concept, but I lack the financial resources necessary to really build and install them. Secondly, I need a team to help me. Then I will need the support of the government to be able to deploy my street lights. Through my grit and determination, I know I can overcome these challenges and fulfill this dream.

35 Dream Jobs:

Coaching the next generation of entrepreneurs

Illustration by April Y. Kasulis.

Name: Tinka Paul

Age: 33

Dream job: International youth mentor

City, Country: Kampala, Uganda

Current job/school: Youth mentor, Innovation graduate fellow

Challenge: Lack of resources

It’s important to remember that there are young people out there who use their creativity to “make it.” I am one such young person. As an innovation / graduate fellow at Educate! an NGO that focuses on developing young leaders and entrepreneurs in Africa, it’s my job to mentor young people and show them how to start something for themselves as entrepreneurs.

In the last six years, I’ve worked with people from all walks of life and helped them learn how to make a living. I started out as a volunteer in Namasagali, a sub-county in the Kamuli District of Uganda, where I trained the community for free. Eventually, I worked my way into becoming the mentor in Kamuli District and have since reached out to over a million young people across Uganda.

I meet young people in the field and show them skills that help get them on their feet. I also give inspirational speeches to students. It’s a mission that comes with challenges.

Most of my challenges come from a lack of resources – we’re always in need of school supplies like notebooks, markers and flip charts. Our laptops and smartphones are also outdated and inefficient, and the monthly operation costs for internet or newspaper subscriptions can even be a big financial undertaking. Sometimes, it is also difficult to work with the tight time table of most school days and teachers that help mobilize students can be slow to respond.

Even so, it’s a pleasure to see these youth start viable businesses that move forward.

35 Dream Jobs:

Empowering youth with documentary films

Illustration by April Y. Kasulis.

Name: Swati Kamble

Age: 26

Dream job: Documentary filmmaker

City, Country: Mumbai, India

Current job/school: Film pre-production

Challenge: Gender discrimination, lack of funding for films

I am pursuing my dream job right now. As a documentary filmmaker, I want to share the current situation youth are facing in great democracy like India. Our Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, is promoting and inviting the world to invest here. But instead of encouraging youth, the government is trying to manipulate them.

The youth of this country is looking for freedom – not from one particular system, but from the roots of society and its functioning. But if freedom of speech is considered sedition – if Muslim writers’ chapters are removed from school books and if young girls must hear government ministers’ irrelevant comments about their clothes – then we are not free.

Over the last two years, we have faced many problems inside our national arts and education institutions. There have been student suicides because of caste discrimination,  student protesters and lawyers have been arrested and police have beaten students. Judges are giving clean slates to some of the perpetrators because they are part of the current government.

I also personally have to face gender discrimination almost everywhere, and it can be difficult to get funds to produce films about controversial topics.

How long are we going to protest? Is it possible to raise your own voice when you feel insecure, threatened, lost and shameful at the same time? In the end, I think this is a plan or big conspiracy among elites and businessmen. It’s the same everywhere. Is this path leading us to become one of them, who needs power in order to do something? We are looking for answers.

I would like to capture the in-depth stories of youth who are facing different problems in all over country. I am not a pessimist. I am a documentary filmmaker trying to create and follow my dream.

35 Dream Jobs:

Fighting for women's equality in Togo

Illustration by April Y. Kasulis.

Name: Edwige Sabanko

Age: 25

Dream job: Social entrepreneur, advocate for African women

City, Country: Lomé, Togo

Current job/school: Recent college graduate

Challenge: Financial resources, patriarchal society

I’m passionate about leadership, entrepreneurship and promoting women’s equality in my community. My dream is to become a great entrepreneur in Africa. My vision is to make sure that every Togolese girl who attends school can become a leader and participate actively in the development of her community.

I am hoping to create a social enterprise and work with capable women to support women’s education through mentoring, scholarships and leadership activities. I just completed my bachelor’s in English at the University of Lomé, where I mentored other young women and counseled them to work hard and to continue their education – both for their own empowerment and for the development of our nation.

It was difficult for me to complete my studies because of financial means and the patriarchal social system in my country, where young ladies are not allowed to go far away for their studies. Thanks to the Karren Waid scholarship program and Pathways Togo, I received scholarships, a mentor and was able to become a great leader.

Through our annual conferences and many leadership activities, I’ve built up my capacities and now I can say proudly that I am an accomplished leader ready to bring solutions to problems in my community. That is why I was recently selected to take part in the Young African Leaders Initiative program in the West Africa Regional Leadership Center in Accra, Ghana, where I met 104 young leaders from other West African countries who shared their experiences with me.

I am now creating a team of Pathways Togo alumnae, in order for us as young leaders to decide what we can give back to our society, which is the main aim of an ethical leader. Through this platform, we will set up many activities, such as mentoring, coaching, leadership training, sensitization, awards and scholarship programs, in order to empower women’s education in our country, and later on throughout Africa. Our vision is to complete the emancipation of women in Africa.

35 Dream Jobs:

Helping people understand different religions

Illustration by April Y. Kasulis.

Name: Meredith Sparks

Age: 26

Dream job: Interfaith development coordinator

City, Country: Raleigh, North Carolina, USA

Current job/school: Communications and advocacy assistant at a global health nonprofit

Challenge: Student loan debt, geographic location

My dream job would be to work as an interfaith development coordinator for a nonprofit organization. Religion is an enormous force for social cohesion and it is only through dialogue within diverse communities that real world solutions can be enacted and inequalities addressed. I think that interfaith development and cooperation holds a great deal of potential for sustainable and grassroots solutions to gender and health inequalities because faith communities have the community ties, relationships and esteem to make significant changes in societies and their cultural practices.

I currently work as the Communications and Advocacy Assistant at a global health nonprofit. I would ideally like to be working to address gender and health inequalities from an interfaith perspective in the future. I would specifically like to focus on issues of gender development within an interfaith framework to improve opportunities for women of diverse backgrounds from all over the world.

35 Dream Jobs:

Trying to save up for journalism school

Illustration by April Y. Kasulis.

Name: Brilliant Muyunda

Age: 18

Dream job: Journalist

City, Country: Lusaka, Zambia

Current job/school: Academic coach

Challenge: Can’t afford university

Journalism is my career of interest. It all started during school when I had opportunities to speak in public with confidence – for example, giving a speech during a school assembly.

I’m lucky to have been a part of the Children International Zambia’s community youth reporting program, which has also enhanced my interest for journalism. My passion for the media keeps growing each day and I have learned to believe in my ability to produce great stories. A highlight so far was when I broadcast live on one of the community radio stations in Lusaka on International Children’s Day.

While at the station, I learned a number of things that I know are steps toward me becoming a journalist. Through my news stories, I picture myself on Zambia National Broadcasting Corporation (ZNBC) bringing attention to issues of human interest and also making relevant authorities address various challenges faced.

The community I live in, however, is one of my biggest challenges. People there always expressed negative views toward seeing someone working to make it big in life.

Most of the people in my community are seemingly content with the poor living conditions and have lost hope for a better life. On the other hand, I am determined to make a difference through working towards achieving my goals, regardless of my environment.

My parents’ financial constraints stands as a challenge too. I am currently looking for a job to help me save for my higher education. These efforts have not been fruitful so far.

My parents are suggesting that I study teaching, which they think would be more affordable. But my passion for journalism still stands because I believe that leaving my dream behind will not me satisfaction with life.

35 Dream Jobs:

Social work to stop child labor

Illustration by April Y. Kasulis.

Name: Jacqueline Bautista

Age: 14

Dream job: Social worker or teacher

City, Country: Batangas, Philippines

Current job/school: Student

Challenge: Can’t afford university

I worked on a sugarcane plantation in Batangas until the ABK3 LEAP project came to my village in 2012. The project works to provide education, advocacy and protection to reduce child labor in sugarcane areas. I’m an active student and very much involved in various activities of ABK3 LEAP.

To give back to the children in my community and provide the same help that I have received, I dream of becoming a social worker or a teacher someday. I’m the oldest among my siblings, so I also hope to achieve my dream to help my family.

But because of poverty, the expenses of going to college may be too much for my parents – who are laborers in the sugarcane plantation – to handle. The cost of getting a college degree in the Philippines is expensive, especially when you live in a more remote village like I do. Without a stable source of income for my parents, I would need to find financial support elsewhere through scholarships.

35 Dream Jobs:

Farming to fund college

Illustration by April Y. Kasulis.

Name: Mbaziira Joshua

Age: 27

Dream job: Land surveyor

City, Country: Kampala, Uganda

Current job/school: University student studying business administration, livestock farmer

Challenge: Financial difficulties

My dream job is to be a land surveyor. I currently work at the Arena Poultry Farm in Kamuli, which helps me pay for my college tuition. The farm was established in 2014 to help transform the poultry industry there and also take it to the next level.

Today, the farm runs a series of activities including a breeding, hatching chicks and chicken processing for hotels and restaurants. The farm’s brand is known for supplying quality poultry products locally. This is a farm that is generating thousands of shillings through poultry farming. The farm even has a hotel.

35 Dream Jobs:

Visually informing the public

Illustration by April Y. Kasulis.

Name: Exodia Torrente

Age: 12

Dream job: Photojournalist

City, Country: Quezon City, Philippines

Current job/school: High school student

Challenge: None

I was unsure of my dream until I joined the Community Youth Reporter program of Children International and fell in love with writing and photography. It really helped me decide what I want to pursue in the future. I realized that I want to be a photojournalist someday. I want to change, inform, inspire others through my photographs.

35 Dream Jobs:

Growing a book business

Illustration by April Y. Kasulis.

Name: Pauline Madudu

Age: 23

Dream job: Entrepreneur

City, Country: Jinja, Uganda

Current job/school: Founder and CEO of Classic Books Enterprise

Challenge: Continuing the business

As a young lady, my dream was always to become an entrepreneur. This dream came to fruition because I joined Educate! Uganda – a group that aims to teach job skills to young people in Africa.

Under the guidance of my mentors, youth leaders and program officers, I learned many skills focused on leadership and entrepreneurship. Today, I’m the founder and CEO of Classic Books Enterprise located in the Bugembe Town Council, which is part of the Jinja District. My business provides books, notebooks and notice boards.

I’m also the proud winner of 1.3 million shillings in this year’s Green Business Plan competition organized by International Labor Organization.