Alumni Spotlight – Carmen Li

Learn to Start is proud to be working with the next generation of lower, middle, and high school students in reimagining what the 21st-century education system should look like. Hear from one of LTS’s incredible alumni, Carmen Li, as she shares how LTS has impacted her personal and professional life since graduating from the program.


How has LTS defined or redefined purpose for you in your personal and professional life? I did not think through what my purpose in life was before I joined the LTS program. I just went with the flow and followed my schedule day by day. However, the experience in the LTS program motivated me to find the thing I am passionate about. I started to wake up with passion. The LTS program simulated my interest in entrepreneurship. Thus, I started my freshman year at Indiana University Bloomington with a major in entrepreneurship. However, the experience was not what I imagined before so I kept exploring my interest until I switched to an Informatic major. The biggest lesson I learned in the LTS program is I need to find my passion in my life. The passion might not be what I started with. The most important thing is I work for what I like.


How has being in Learn To Start impacted your confidence as a person? Learn To Start helped me to overcome my fear and encouraged me to step out of my comfort zone. Before I joined the Learn To Start program, I was too shy to express myself and extremely passive during a discussion. The experience of teamwork and presentations gave me the chance to express myself in front of others. As I practiced more in the Learn To Start program, I became more active in discussions. Most importantly, in my daily life, I had the courage to start conversations proactively.

Receiving Feedback

How has LTS impacted your ability to receive feedback? What was your experience with feedback prior to the program? I view feedback as a boring section where people just compliment each others’ work and should never give any negative feedback because it would hurt their feelings. The LTS program let me realize that constructive feedback is not criticizing my work or saying I did a terrible job. On the contrary, it is helping me to bring my work to the next level with another perspective. It is easy to miss some points especially when I work on a big project. Feedback can supplement my oversight. Moreover, there is always room for improvement. The purpose of feedback is to get advice from others about improvement.

Connection to College

Did LTS have an impact on your college application process? LTS had a huge impact on my college application process as well as my college experiences. I wrote the majority part of my application essay about my learning experience in the LTS program. It positively impacted me, opened my view, and most importantly led me in the right direction. During the interview for college application, I used my experiences with LTS as examples to present myself to the interviewer. The practice of presentations gave me the confidence to speak and the comfort of communicating with others.


What was your experience with risk-taking before LTS vs after? How has LTS impacted your ability to take risks?Risk-taking was a heavy word in my dictionary before I participated in the LTS program. It was equivalent to failure. The learning experience in LTS taught me that risk-taking is a process of estimating my situation and preparing for upcoming events. Risk-taking does not mean I am going to fail. On the other hand, it helps me to analyze current situations to make the most suitable decisions. I need to know how much risk I can take before I put anything into action based on the different situations.

Ability to Network

What was your knowledge of networking before LTS vs after? How has LTS impacted your ability to network? My previous understanding of networking was extremely formal, like social events where professional business people exchange information. I learned in the LTS program that networking is a method of building up connections with other people in the field. It is not necessarily restricted to the business field. Networking is more about presenting yourself or your work to others and building relationships with each other. This is a chance to get to know other people and also allow them to learn about you.

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Carmen Li

LTS Graduate (NBPS)

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