NAAHP Member Spotlight on Lovens Gjed
Each week the NAAHP highlights our members who are making a difference in our organization and in their communities. Lovens Gjed is an entrepreneur and currently a student at Columbia University majoring in Sustainable Development with a concentration in Economics. He will be attending the NAAHP Annual Conference November 1 -4 and looks forward to networking with our expert speakers and fellow attendees.
Follow Lovens on Instagram at lovensgj.
10 Questions for Lovens Gjed
Dominique Elkind, NAAHP: Tell us a bit about your personal background.
Lovens Gjed: I was born and raised in Gonaives, Haiti where I also graduated from Collège Immaculée Conception, a local Catholic high school, in 2014. After graduation, my family and I moved to the State of Connecticut where I started attending Norwalk Community College, graduated with an Associate Degree in Liberal Arts and Sciences, then transferred to Columbia University School of General Studies. I am a certified entrepreneur and a Sustainable Development major with a concentration in Economics at Columbia. I am also the current International Relations Coordinator for the Association Tonnelle Action (ATA), a student nonprofit based in Haiti whose mission is to develop a better appreciation of the Creole and Francophone cultures in the country. ATA has been organizing spelling bee contests in over 10 cities in Haiti and developing partnerships with organizations such as the Organization Internationale de la Francophonie, Fondasyon Konesans ak Libete (FOKAL), and local high schools. I have been with the organization since 2013.
NAAHP: What’s your current job?
LG: Student and entrepreneur.
NAAHP: How did your background prepare you for your current role?
LG: The numerous transitions I have faced during my lifetime have allowed me to better handle the risk and demands of entrepreneurship. I was a Hurricane survivor at the age of 8 and lived with constant fear during each Fall for the following years until I left the country. I grew up in a single-headed matriarchal middle-class family in Haiti which later downgraded to low-income once we came to the US. Needless to say that that transition was not the most pleasant. However, the most challenging experience which has helped me develop skills as an Entrepreneur has been my cultural transition in the US and the extent to which I have managed to make it a successful one despite the difficulties.
NAAHP: What is the biggest challenge of your work?
LG: With the assistance of ATA, I am currently working on a project which aims to facilitate the access to practical educational resources to less privileged citizens in my home city; my main challenge has been to successfully pair with fellow Haitians in the Diaspora who think positively of the future of the country and consider themselves an essential element in developing it.
NAAHP: What would you say have been your greatest career or personal accomplishments so far?
LG: My first greatest accomplishment so far has been a recognition from the State of Connecticut, the Connecticut State Colleges and Universities, the Coca-Cola Scholars Foundation and Phi Theta Kappa International Honor Society and my induction into the 2017 All-Connecticut Academic Team. As per the CSCU’s webpage, “the All-Connecticut Academic Team recognizes the outstanding scholarly achievements and leadership accomplishments of students enrolled in Connecticut’s community, technical and junior colleges.”
The second is to have led my old community college’s Phi Theta Kappa chapter to its recognition as the 3rd highest rated chapter in New England and one of the top 100 chapters in the nation in 2016-2017 for two Fall 2016 projects. Those two projects are namely (1) our Honors in Action Project which focused on researching the impact of seaweed in the Long Island River, sharing our research results with the local community and organizing a seaweed fair to showcase the different industrial applications of the marine algae, and (2) our College Project which we elaborated in partnership with the college President in an effort to raise awareness of the benefits of attending community colleges among high school seniors.
Lastly, I am also very proud to have been able to pioneer the first Linguistic Festival at my community college early this year in an attempt to promote cultural awareness within a very diversified student body.
NAAHP: What’s the most important leadership lesson you’ve learned?
LG: That would be to embrace a diversity of ideas, avoid confirmation bias, and to surround myself with those who freely give constructive criticism.
NAAHP: How long have you been a member of the NAAHP? What’s your best experience thus far?
LG: I have been a member for less than a month and will have my first experience at the NAAHP conference in November. I am so excited!!
NAAHP: What kind of advice would you give to fellow NAAHP members looking to grow professionally?
LG: I would advise the members of the Haitian Diaspora to ponder what their contribution will be towards improving lives in the mainland. And to those living in the home country, I encourage them to develop entrepreneurial skills towards bringing solutions to local issues.
NAAHP: Who or what inspires you?
LG: My mother!
NAAHP: When you’re not working, where can we find you?
LG: At a movie theater or a live performance by amateurs or a basketball game or the gym.