Meet Young BPW Member - Emily VanVleck

31 Jan 2022 8:46 PM | Lea-Ann W. Berst (Administrator)

Emily VanVleck is a member of the NFBPWC/NYC Chapter.

Emily was born and raised in Oregon and started her professional life working in a bank. She was promoted to management and was running her own branch within three years but had always wanted to travel. This led her to apply to American Airlines where she has been a flight attendant for seven years! She was first based in Texas where she spent three years before moving to New York City.

Emily loves going on adventures and traveling as much as she can. She really likes going to places with a lot of history and culture. The more off the beaten path the better! Emily loves trying new things and learning as much as possible.

Emily Van Vleck Where do you attend school?

I attend CUNY City College of New York and am on track to graduate in May 2022. I am completing my bachelor’s degree in international studies with a double minor in human rights and public policy.

What are your career aspirations? 

My dream is to work for the UN or an international NGO helping people and creating a more equitable world for all. My paths of study align with my ambitions, and I have done several internships related to these fields of interest. My first internship was with NFBPWC in the NYC chapter as the advocacy and UN intern. In this position, I was able to sit on an NGO Committee on Migration subcommittee gaining relevant experience. I have also been a special committee member for the Afghan Women Project with NFBPWC which has allowed me to be a part of devising and implementing a large scale project in line with my career goals. Apart from BPW, I have participated in the ETR Women’s Public Service program where I was placed in a New York State Assembly member’s office and learned more about public service and policy formulation. I also volunteer in my spare time with READ718 as a literacy tutor helping to bridge literacy gaps for children from low-income families.

Afghan Women Project

What brought you to this career path?

I am an extremely empathetic person and have always had a strong desire to help others. When I returned to college, I knew I wanted to help people. I considered a career in social work but felt it would be too emotionally tolling. Instead of helping people after bad things happened to them, I want to fix the broken systems that fail people to begin with. When I started to learn more about the UN and the work it does to make a more equitable world and promote human rights, I was inspired to one day work there.

Can you tell us about an important lesson you've learned in your career so far?

Flexibility and adaptivity are paramount! Life is always changing and willingness to adapt to new things will take you so far, the pandemic is a prime example of this.

Is there a particular person who helped get you to where you are today? 

There are numerous people who have helped me get where I am today. The first person who started me on my path was a stranger who, based on my customer service skills at the Subway sandwich shop I worked at, offered me my job at US Bank, kickstarting my professional career. Without that initial push, I have no idea if I’d have the ambition to take the risks I have.

When I got my job as a flight attendant, my friends and family were extremely supportive. I was afraid to leave my home in Oregon along with everything and everyone I knew. My best friend gave me the encouragement I needed to move to Texas and take on the unknown.

When the Covid-19 pandemic hit and my career was in jeopardy, my partner gave me unwavering support as I returned to school. I could not have done it without his help. Since I have become a member of NFBPWC, each member I have interacted with has also helped me get to where I am. Especially NYC president Nermin Ahmad, NYC secretary Voyka Soto, and my fellow intern and friend Djenabou Bah. Each of these ladies pushes me to be my best self and I am incredibly grateful for them.

How did you find BPW? Tell us about one memorable experience you've had with the club so far!

I found BPW through an internship at my college. I was selected for the Edward Koch Public Service Fellowship in summer 2021. NFBPWC/NYC was listed as a partner organization through the fellowship and I was interested in the UN/advocacy role available. My internship ended in August, but I am thrilled to continue as a student member.

The most memorable experience I’ve had with the club so far is being a part of the Afghan Women Project. My desire to help people is what motivated me to return to college, and I feel that is exactly what the Afghan Women Project is accomplishing.

How can the BPW club and its members help you on your career path? What do you wish we knew about you and your pursuits?

I would love to be more involved in our work with the UN!

Would you like to share how you have evolved since Covid-19 disrupted 'normal' business life?

My life was changed drastically by Covid-19! Before the pandemic I was comfortable in my career as a flight attendant. I sometimes struggled with feeling as though my work was not particularly fulfilling but didn’t do much to change that. When the pandemic hit, it upended my career. I knew I was going to be furloughed so I took the opportunity to make some big life changes. I decided to return to school and finish my bachelor’s degree and try to find a career that brought me more fulfillment. I went from being a career flight attendant to a mature student returning to college. It has been an immense change, but I am so grateful for it. I am now back to flying and trying to balance my flight attendant career with the new opportunities.

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