She introduces herself to fellow students as Julia from Germany, Sweden, Finland and Singapore.
There’s got to be a story behind that set of countries, right? Yes, but where Julia Schetelig ’21 is from and where she’s been seem less important to her than where she’s going. “Come talk to me if you’re curious,” she says.
Her forward focus is distinctive, and it has, no doubt, been important to her string of accomplishments: leading peace conferences through Initiative for Peace, writing a peace syllabus for refugees with a team of educators, creating a documentary on migrant workers in Singapore, presenting a TEDx Talk, and recently launching a website for young people who want to make a difference but are not sure where to start. The site is called Generation Impact.
“The website features resources on how to find volunteer opportunities, conferences, change-making apps, tips on how to crowd-fund and more,” she says. “I’ve been fortunate enough to have had some great leadership positions. I want to spread leadership and share these experiences to empower others to be impactful in their communities.
“I understand the deep cultural context required to form solutions to social problems. I won’t solve your problems, but I can teach you skills and knowledge that will help you get there.”
About a year ago, she began creating a massive spreadsheet full of the opportunities, skills and knowledge that make up Generation Impact.
“I realized that there are so many opportunities and resources out there for people,” she says. “I want to empower others. Now that the website has launched, I want to know how can I reach more people.
“I want young people to know that they can have an impact in their community. Young people can change the world. It’s all about collateral impact. I may give just one person a resource that leads them to a conference, and it may form a chain to someone who becomes president of Cambodia.”
A self-described compulsive learner, Schetelig is a Psychology and Global Management double major.
“I’m open for a lot of things at the moment — academia, corporate social responsibility, consulting, nonprofits, organizations like UNICEF,” she says. “These majors are aligned and very much about making an impact doing what I want to do through teaching and working. I have a lot of interests, but what unites all of them is that I love educating and empowering people.”
Schetelig grew up in Germany in a Swedish-German bilingual household and went to United World College in Singapore before learning about Earlham.
She learned about The Heart, the grassy center of Earlham’s campus where students gather to connect with friends. She learned about the College’s culture and approach to academics, where “Earlham is a space to create yourself,” as she describes it. “I was intrigued by the idea that I would have the freedom and space to create my way. I’ve learned that you have to fight for your opportunities, and to recognize that space as an opportunity and not as a gap. It’s space to greet things everyday.”
At Earlham she has worked in theatre productions and has been a convener of Cabaret Club and member of two other choirs.
“I’m a Peer Mentor, and it has given me so much joy,” she says. “People reach out to me when they’re having a bad time. I sit with them and listen. I take 20 minutes to see if they’re really OK. That’s how we change the world. I want to be there for the people around me. What kind of leader are you if when you return from attending a peace conference, you ignore the person crying in the room next to you?”
She has also initiated communication on campus about a Happiness Project, with the goal of having more deliberate thoughts, discussions and actions about how the Earlham community can be happier.
“Earlham is really challenging for me,” she says. “I felt like I wouldn’t fit in, that people might not accept me for the crazy person that I am. I’ve been privileged to have really good opportunities, and these are a huge part of who I am. These past few weeks I decided that I’m just going to be me and see what happens.
“It’s been really empowering. I’ve been really humbled by how the community reacts to me being me, and Julia from everywhere at once is not a problem.”