When a volunteer translator quietly pulled her aside during her first day in Costa Rica, Dr. Nicole Rankine ’15, ’10 could feel the intensity of the woman’s emotion.
“You don’t know what this means for our country,” the translator said as she choked back tears. “You are changing our society.”
As part of the John Maxwell Team, Rankine and 250 other certified international coaches, volunteers, and leaders traveled to Costa Rica this March to serve with a special delegation called Transformación Costa Rica. This national leadership education project reached around 400,000 Costa Ricans over the course of 5 days as the team worked to teach value-based principles that can be used in social and professional environments.
Rankine’s public health education from Walden fueled a successful career as a microbiologist for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta for nearly 10 years, but she longed to make a larger impact.
“I was in the lab all the time, so I didn’t feel that I was using my talents to create change in a broader sense,” she says. “It was a pivotal moment in my life that led me to doing international mission work so I could directly see and interact with who I was serving.”
In 2013, Rankine went on a mission to Nairobi, Kenya, to develop and administer health education workshops centered on HIV/AIDS awareness for a local church. Two years later, she became a certified member of the John Maxwell Team, one of the fastest growing leadership and skills training programs in the world.
Through this program, she is certified to teach leadership and personal growth courses, and she can join Maxwell as he travels and works with different countries to transform their social values. But Rankine says it was Walden’s culture of effecting positive social change that inspired her to pursue these initiatives.
“Being in public health, you always have the desire to help people,” she says. “But when you talk about social change, it’s understanding that your actions are what will create change. Even if it’s something small, I can use my skills and talents to impact the way someone thinks and acts. Walden’s reinforcement of this idea is what made me realize how I can make a difference.”
In addition to her work with Maxwell, Rankine is the founder of two organizations. The COLE Academy of Personal Growth, LLC is a company that helps new professionals and leaders address workplace relationships, leadership styles, internal motivation, work-life conflicts, and communication and social skills. Healthy Young People Excel Inc. (HYPE) is a nonprofit devoted to helping youth worldwide develop soft skills so they can shift their behaviors and attitudes to increase their self-esteem to live healthy and productive lives. She hopes to expand these organizations on a global scale. In the meantime, she encourages everyone to take advantage of opportunities to make a difference in global communities.
“The opportunities are out there—you just have to get out of the box,” she says. “When you get comfortable with being uncomfortable, you can experience so much more in life and have a greater impact on the world around you. You truly can go out and become the change agents of the world.”
— Kyra Molinaro