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Pathways Newsletter

[Image Description: Two MCC members are walking away on a rocky trail, carrying their packs, surrounded by burnt orange bushes. Through the haze in the background, there are a multitude of mountains, overlapping one another.]

MCC Alum Spotlight: How Paul Tesarek went from MCC to Tanzania to Visa

Paul, wearing an MCC t-shirt, poses at the entrance of a trailhead with a woman and a golden retriever.

Paul Tesarek served with MCC in 2013 and 2014 in our Northern Rockies region. He now works at Visa, running major partnership programs.

MCC: What inspired you to join MCC?
Paul: I grew up in Omaha, Nebraska. For generations, my family ALWAYS stayed and lived in Omaha. I graduated undergrad not wanting to be in Omaha, but wasn't quite sure where to go. MCC was the only organization that provided me an opportunity to get out and explore. So, I skipped my college graduation and joined as my first “job” out of college.   

MCC: What was your favorite part about serving with MCC?
Paul: Meeting people from all over the US, diverse perspectives, open conversations about poop scenarios while on the trail… I found myself while in a community of amazingly different people but at the same time "my type of people". I learned how to talk, build relationships, the teamwork mentality of constantly giving, and built empathy for others while in MCC.

MCC: How did MCC help launch you into your next career pursuits?
Paul: Because MCC is an AmeriCorps program, that fast tracked me into being accepted into Peace Corps. As an agriculture volunteer in Tanzania, I used the education about stewardship and conservation I gained at MCC to lead massive tree planting and soil restoration projects. That supported some of the most at-risk populations on earth, as the community has a 30% HIV positive rate, high illiteracy, and high unemployment.

The lessons working on the trail, going without electricity, and falling in love with the place were skills I relied upon to stay grounded while in the village. Oftentimes, locals would come up to me, check my hands, and would joke that "I wasn't a foreigner, I knew how to work - look at my hands and the calluses, I was one of them." This played a huge part in my acceptance by the community.

MCC really led to my success in the Peace Corps. Peace Corps facilitated my success into grad school where I acquired my MBA at Arizona State. Then, I joined Visa because of the scale of impact I could provide. 

My experience with MCC helped me understand the importance of listening, working together, and taking the value of conservation with you through life, regardless of your role. This is our goal at Visa, where I now run partnership programs that allow cardholders to complete actionable items to improve their environmental behaviors and track the environmental impact of purchases.