Participant Story: Ellen Conrad

There is so much possibility in Pittsburgh; I love how the old and the new emerging parts of the city come together.” – Ellen Conrad


Ellen Conrad grew up in Lakewood, Colorado and attended Goshen College, where she earned an Environmental Science degree with a concentration in Sustainability and a minor in Bible, Religion, and Philosophy. During her time at Goshen, she spent three months studying abroad in Sichuan, China and one month traveling in New Delhi, India. Ellen has devoted much of her time to music and theater by performing in Goshen Monologues and Women’s World Choir and served as a staff writer for Goshen College’s newspaper, The Record. In her free time, Ellen enjoys hiking, cooking, biking, and up-cycling.  She is a part of the East End cohort, and is serving at the Environmental Charter School.

Heather Marra: How has PULSE inspired you to live/think/act differently?

Ellen Conrad: Before PULSE, money was a huge part of what I did with my time. I did many activities that required money and bought expensive products. Not having an expendable income has taught me how to budget and how to scope out free things while still having fun.

Heather: Tell me something you are learning about yourself through PULSE.

Ellen: I’m learning about how much I value relationships. I feel like my success in my non-profit comes from nurturing those relationships. I’m also learning about being a good roommate and building relationships with the PULSErs that I live with.

Heather: What have you enjoyed most about living in community?

Ellen: I have loved getting to know my roommates. Living with them shows me such a different part of who they are as people and it’s been great building really intimate relationships with them. Plus, my roommates are really fun!

Heather: What surprised you most about Pittsburgh?

Ellen: I never thought that I would fall in love with a city that I have no real connection to. There is so much possibility in Pittsburgh; I love the old and the new emerging parts of the city come together. I ride my bike through some parts of Pittsburgh and see the different projects taking place and think, “This community is going to be so cool in, maybe, 15 years.”

Heather: What is the best part of the PULSE experience?

Ellen: The best part is being able to get experience in my field. I looked for other jobs in sustainability and the majority of them require some amount of experience that I don’t have. There are many sustainability volunteer opportunities, but in PULSE I’m supported in my service as well as getting the experience I will need to succeed in my future career.

Story by PULSE Participant Heather Marra.

Read more Participant Stories from Fellows about their experience in PULSE. If you would like to learn more about the PULSE program, please visit our Serve with Us page.

Also, check out other Stories of Transformation: