Photo of Trevor Nelson

'There Are So Many Opportunities to Impact Big Issues'

Thursday, November 3, 2022

Trevor Nelson, ’18 BSB, knew from an early age that he wanted to make a difference.

Trevor Nelson in Uganda

He was only in grade school when his mom passed away, and people in his community—family, friends, neighbors, teachers—pitched in to help Nelson's dad raise him and his brother. “So, from very early on I saw what happens when the community comes together to take care of each other,” Nelson said.

His high school had a business program, where he took a couple of accounting courses. It was through this program that he took an internship at a local museum. “And the lightbulb went off, like ‘Oh, business can be applied to nonprofits, to things that are helping the community,’” Nelson said.

He chose the Carlson School in part because it offered a nonprofit management major. But it was a seminar titled “Reality 101: A Survey of the Human Predicament” that cemented Nelson's path. “I saw how complex [sustainability] was, looking at it through the lenses of economics, poverty, and inequality, a big focus on energy, deep time, evolution, human behavior. And that got me focusing a lot more on some of these bigger social issues.” Soon after he changed his major to supply chain management.

His international experience in Kenya and two years with the Peace Corps in Uganda put a further “hyper-focus on the importance of community,” Nelson said. So it only seems natural he would join Second Harvest Heartland—a vital Twin Cities food bank—as their Sourcing and Demand Planning Business Analyst.

He has found it immensely rewarding and urges other business students to consider the wide range of career paths that can allow them to make a positive impact with their work. “To be honest, most of the time I forget that I’m working for a nonprofit,” Nelson said. “You’re doing the same work you’d be doing any other place, but you know that at the end of the day it’s helping; it’s creating value for the community.”