Keshia Blunt, Goodwill’s lead associate at its Colonial Heights store, wants to help save the world. Ironically, she has never set foot outside the United States. “I’ve always wanted to travel overseas,” said Blunt. “When I was in 11th grade, I read a book about refugees. I decided I wanted to do something positive for them,” she said.
In May 2018, Blunt will take the first step in that journey. In pursuit of a Master’s Degree in International Relations, she will spend two months in Brussels, Belgium, to study global development and peace.
Her overseas studies are part of an internship through the University of Bridgeport in Connecticut where Blunt has taken online courses since 2016. “I love learning about different cultures, and now I’m passionate about helping with the refugee crisis and immigration reform,” said Blunt.
Blunt graduated from Virginia Commonwealth University with a bachelor’s degree in International Studies, then joined Americorps – a national volunteer society– to serve critical needs in communities. In her 10 months with Americorps she was involved with projects in California, Montana and Idaho and worked with youth, veterans and individuals with disabilities.
Blunt said it’s bittersweet to leave Goodwill and her co-workers in Colonial Heights. “When I told my managers, they said they were happy for me to have this opportunity. My associates said they will miss me, but everyone has encouraged me to have this new experience,” she said.
Robin Kijek, Goodwill’s district operations manager who oversees the Colonial Heights location, said, “Keshia has been wonderful to work with. As part of our management team, she has the type of positive attitude needed to help in difficult situations. Her bright, cheerful approach to situations will serve her well”.
That support is echoed by Kevin Lippy, the store’s assistant manager. “Keshia is always helpful, never complains and smiles a lot. That helps morale because when leadership has that attitude, it trickles down to the associates,” said Lippy.
Blunt said that her management position at Goodwill gave her skills that will benefit her as an international professional. “I work closely with associates to make sure the store operates smoothly and problems are solved. Working here has helped me understand teamwork, diplomacy and conflict resolution.”
“Keshia aspires to make a positive impact in this world and we are proud to be a springboard towards that goal,” said Christy Roberson, Goodwill’s vice president of people operations. “One of our core values is learning, and we support our associates in furthering their education and professional development,” she added. “Goodwill empowers associates to move up the career ladder in their fields of interest so that they can become self-reliant and help communities flourish.”
In preparation for her overseas studies, Blunt is brushing up on her French. — one of three languages spoken in Belgium. “I look forward to crossing Belgium off my travel bucket list. The next two will be Japan and France,” she said.