• Baker Institute Team

"I want to make the world a better place."


Ryan Oksenhorn, one of the founders of Zipline, talking to us about the company.

Riley Walters '20 | Bethlehem, PA

Major | Accounting & Finance

Minor | Sustainable Development &  Entrepreneurship


Today we were tasked with finding our why statement, not just being able to say what we do in life but why we do it, what passion drives us. For most of my life, my why has been “because I’m good at it”, which isn’t really a why at all. I was a smart kid, and I always did well in school. My parents presented me with extracurricular learning opportunities, mainly through my involvement in the Johns Hopkins Center for Talented Youth. I took an additional math course online in elementary school, stayed overnight in some really cool museums like the Virginia Air and Space Center and International Spy Museum, and took the SAT when I was 12, as it was a requirement of the program. The reason why I did those things wasn’t because I was particularly passionate about a specific area, but rather because I could, and I wanted to take advantage of the opportunities presented to me, opportunities that were not afforded to all students.

I did find enjoyment in the programs I was involved with, but had yet to find my passion. I did everything I could to get into a good college, and ended up accepted to the IBE program at Lehigh. My senior year of high school, I took an environmental science class that opened my eyes to environmental issues and I discovered a passion I hadn’t felt for other topics. With that in mind, I decided to study Environmental Engineering. Long story short, engineering wasn’t for me, and I switched to Accounting, as I had enjoyed the introductory accounting course I had taken. Ever since I have been worried about the kind of job I would get, if I would feel passionate about the mission of the company, if I would feel like I’m truly making a difference in the world behind all of the spreadsheets and reports.

During the workshop, I realized that I must continue to ask myself these questions in my job search. Although I had trouble defining my why today, I know I want to make the world a better place, perhaps on the environmental front, perhaps in another area. The mission of company and its values mean a lot more to me than the specific job I will one day hold. Of all the companies we’ve visited, Zipline has had the biggest impact on me. They are committed to making lives better for people who face problems that we in the comforts of America cannot imagine. That’s the kind of company that would make me happy to get out of bed and come to work each morning. I will be on the lookout for companies like them, where I can bring my numbers knowledge to contribute to a team of like minded individuals who want to change the world, for the better.

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