Sarah (Spicuzza) Davelaar  is a 20011-12 PULSE alumnus. In this interview, we discuss taking a chance, developing community, being stretched and rediscovering your city.

What about the PULSE program was attractive to you?

I had a hard time deciding what to do and where to go upon graduation from college. PULSE reflected many ideas that I felt I needed, and so it became the answer. It was the perfect combination of a gap year, community, and nonprofit experience.

What was the best part of your PULSE experience?

The best part of my PULSE experience was what I learned. PULSE itself provided excellent seminars that introduced me to topics or other activities that I wouldn’t have stumbled upon myself. I thoroughly enjoyed exploring the city on – one I grew up near but didn’t dive into yet – Wednesday afternoons with the other PULSErs. My nonprofit partnership, Serving Leaders (now Pittsburgh Leadership Foundation), stretched me personally and professionally. It was quite an experience to work with John Stahl-Wert, the founder of PULSE. And finally, my housemates were diverse and close. We constantly learned from each other in our community.

What kind of work do you do now?

I work as Content Strategist for The Signal Center for Health Innovation, under the University of Iowa Health Ventures. It’s a perfect combination of strategy and creativity for me. Plus, I get to tell the story of human impact. Our work deals mostly in digital health innovation and digital health (telehealth) which is a really exciting industry in a rural state.

How did PULSE prepare you for what you are doing now?

It’s so hard to nail down how PULSE prepared me for what I do now – there are many things! The program made me realize the importance of community. Since my PULSE year ended, I have moved to new places where I haven’t known anyone (a few times). Building a community and finding one where I am has done wonders for me. PULSE serves as a reminder to explore my own city. It’s easy to get comfortable or to frequent the same places. Now, I make an effort to try a new place, or a food that I might not like and take a chance!

How have you stayed connected to PULSE?

Staff always make sure to keep alumni informed, of course! I also follow PULSE on social media and reconnected with my fellow PULSErs (whether they were in my year or not) on a regular basis. The relationships that I’ve gained from this program are incredible.

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