From the Digital to the Personal Working with the Gaede Institute from Both Sides
When people think of technology, oftentimes they worry that it takes away an aspect of personal connection. When used well, however, technology can actually facilitate bringing different people together. Here at the CATLab, we're about designing systems that create opportunities for in-person connection. One specific example is our partnership with the Gaede Institute this summer. For both Gaede and the CATLab, I manage email marketing and communications. In many ways, the Gaede Institute has been on the bookends of my college career. I’ve had the privilege of being on two completely different ends of the Gaede Institute: from participant to intern.
As a Participant
I was seventeen years old, going into my senior year of high school, and I had no clue where I wanted to go to college or what I wanted to do with my life. One day, I came across a brochure for a program called Trailhead: Seeking God’s Call. It piqued my interest, and after inquiring about the program and learning more about it, I was on my way to spend two weeks at Westmont. In those two weeks, I developed close relationships with others in the program, gained a clearer sense of calling (as well as the ways I had been thinking about it incorrectly), and learned new information that allowed me to engage in important conversations such as sustainability and immigration. My takeaways from this program illuminate what Trailhead is really all about. Most importantly, the program planted a seed of interest in making Westmont my home for the next four years at college. Little did I know, those two weeks were just the beginning.
As an Intern
I ended up committing to Westmont for college, and as I was coming in, I felt like I already had a small community because of Trailhead. I already knew that everyone at the Gaede Institute was a source of support, and friends that I had made at Trailhead would be there too. As the years progressed and I made friends, got involved in different organizations, and even studied abroad, I had a steady connection to Trailhead through regular lunches, group dinners, and check-ins from those at the Gaede Institute.
When I joined the CATLab this summer, I was pleasantly surprised to learn that my connection to Gaede would continue this summer in a partnership with them. I found that the Gaede Institute, with its multiple remarkable programs, was overwhelmed with uploading their data into Salesforce and manually sending emails out to their interested parties. They entrusted their data to me, and I set out to organize their audiences and create a new system. Working with Salesforce and Salesforce’s marketing platform, Marketing Cloud, I’ve been creating an online marketing system that will automatically send emails to students that are interested in or apply to Trailhead. Through Journeys—specific paths that you can create to send emails automatically and autonomously—the Gaede Institute can focus on the things that were most important to me as a participant: time together, in person.
It’s been such an honor to work with the Gaede Institute this summer and be part of creating a lasting impact on future participants of the program. I know that there is still lots of work to do in the final weeks of CATLab, but thinking about what it means for the future of the Gaede Institute and Trailhead itself is the reward I am pushing for.
Kenna Brase is a fourth-year Communications major and Global Studies minor who is excited to be part of the Creative Team for this summer. She will be working on Marketing and Communications for both CATLab and the Gaede Institute, and is looking forward to using her creative and technical skills to reach various communities that are connected to CATLab. Kenna’s current interests include drive-in movies, making meals with friends, learning languages, podcasts, and finding the best sunset spot in Santa Barbara.
Follow us for more stories from the CATLab!