By Jason KUROSU
Ted Gonder did not envision visiting the White House or the Senate when he was a high school senior at Crescenta Valley High in 2008. In fact, Gonder did not even want to go to college when he was a freshman at CV. But when he decided to phone former Vice President Al Gore for help on a school project regarding energy, a decision that seemed a long shot at the time, Gonder was surprised to receive a call back from one of Gore’s staff, telling him that he wanted to make him a student advisor.
Since then, Gonder began attending the University of Chicago where a love of traveling led him to becoming a geography major and a strong interest in entrepreneurship led him to joining the Kairos Society, an international student run organization intent on solving global problems through entrepreneurship and co-founding Moneythink with four of his friends in his freshman year of college, an organization interested in spreading financial literacy, specifically to students.
Currently, Gonder is in his final year at the University of Chicago and is planning to work on Moneythink full time after college, hoping to continue “using business to solve big problems.” Moneythink takes undergraduate students and sends them to high schools around the country, where they present seminars on financial literacy and entrepreneurship, subjects which rarely receive any attention in today’s public schools.
“We hope to show an alternative route to prosperity to those who might not have access to the American Dream,” said Gonder.
He attributes much of his current success to that one phone call, that one leap of faith moment that paid dividends.
“When I was in high school, there was no way I would have anticipated being where I am,” said Gonder. “It hasn’t been all easy. There’s been a lot of learning, a lot of failure, a lot of rejection.”
But Gonder finds that the attitude that led him to phone Gore three years ago (“Why not call him?” said Gonder while recalling his senior year) gave him the courage to continue endeavoring to new places, both figurative and literal, and made him who he is today.
“Continue challenging assumptions,” said Gonder, when asked what advice he would offer today’s college bound. “Try a ton of stuff and don’t be afraid to fail. Your passion is not going to come to you right away. Stay curious.”