If you were to divide the world into those who are givers and those who are takers, it’s clear that Yasmin Horner would doubtlessly be counted as a member of the former group.
Just consider how she spends her limited free time outside of class. A Commerce student double majoring in Urban and Environmental Planning and minoring in Architecture at the School of Architecture, Horner is a deeply engaged volunteer committed to helping people in a variety of areas.
For instance, the Lewisville, NC, native spent last year working with a food bank in her hometown to assess its accessibility by public transit, which led to collaborations with the Town Hall and local transit authority of nearby Winston-Salem, NC, to increase access to the food bank for those in the area who need it most. She’s since transferred that knowledge to the Charlottesville community, where she has been researching the intersection between accessible transit and food security. And as if that weren’t enough of a testament to her commitment to others, she’s also serving as a volunteer firefighter with the Seminole Trail Volunteer Fire Department.
In addition to all of those efforts, Horner has served as President of the UVA branch of international student org 180 Degrees Consulting, a volunteer group with more than 150 branches across 33 countries that connects socially minded students with what the consultancy calls “high-potential nonprofit organizations and social enterprises.” The group has been dedicated to creating greater social impact in the greater Charlottesville-Richmond area since founding a branch at UVA in 2019.
As she relinquishes her position as 180 Degrees Consulting President to make way for peer member Sarah Lisner (McIntire ’24) to take the helm this semester, we spoke to Horner about her work with the org, what she’s been able to accomplish with her teammates, and how the experience supported her studies at the Commerce School.
Horner recalls that “180DC” was one of the first groups she became involved with when she arrived on Grounds. “And I just loved it so much that I never left,” she says, explaining that it originally appealed to her because of its work doing pro bono consulting for local nonprofits. “I was interested in consulting, but more importantly, I wanted to help community nonprofits, and I liked that we offer our services to clients at no cost. We have worked for huge nonprofits as well as nonprofits that have one employee, and we pride ourselves on being equally accessible to both.”
But the group’s local focus really spoke to her: “Learning about the history and struggles of Charlottesville is important due diligence as a UVA student, and getting to make a difference by supporting people in the community who have devoted their careers to doing great work here is amazing.”
Ultimately, she found that the relationships she made with all of the people involved were what made her time in the group most valuable. “Everyone is so genuine, and the older students I met when I first joined quickly became huge mentors to me,” she says. Her fellow members have continued to show authentic love for the work and interest in fostering positive impact. “The people are really why I became so involved.”
Some of the most rewarding experiences she’s had have come from collaborating with such dedicated students partnering with local community nonprofits through the org’s project for the Mediation Center of Charlottesville.
“I was the project leader, so I got to be more hands-on with the client than I ever really had been before,” says Horner. “We were able to find a solution to a major problem they were having, while simultaneously connecting lots of people in Charlottesville with mediation services who may not have been able to afford them elsewhere.”
Group Effort Accolade
An unexpected result of the UVA group’s strong commitment to the 180DC mission resulted in receiving the Best New Branch in the Americas global award by the group’s governing body. She says that the recognition was incredibly exciting and that her group was honored to receive it last fall, when Leigh Bierman (A&S ’22, MPP Batten ’23) was President and Horner served as Vice President of Operations. “However, all of the executive board at the time—Chloe Estrada (McIntire ’23), Thomas Awad (A&S ’23), and Carter Light (McIntire ’23)—played a huge role,” she says. “It is something that would not have been possible without the support and incredible work of our members and the creativity and innovation of our executive team.”
Horner believes that the group’s willingness to innovate collaboratively was the defining characteristic of the UVA 180DC chapter that led to its recognition.
“A couple of years ago, when we were still deep in the pandemic, we made a point to reach out to other 180DC branches and learn from them. We loved meeting new branches so much that we hosted a big virtual interbranch meeting with a good number of other chapters. Our members all got to connect in breakout rooms and hear about each other’s work in their respective communities, while also learning about how other teams handled certain projects and problems,” she says.
As the interbranch event proved to be such a great success, with the UVA group receiving recognition during 180DC nationals afterwards, they then hosted another interbranch event the following year and are looking forward to continuing the tradition they began in the future.
“In the end, I think that our will to always learn and better our branch stood out the most in the award process. As my tenure as President ended at the start of this semester, I am incredibly excited to see what our new President, Sarah Lisner, will do to continue this trend,” she says.
Commerce and Career Connections
Horner’s work with 180DC has proven advantageous, as it connects to aspects of her McIntire education, and she finds that the two complement each other considerably.
“Part of why I love working with nonprofits so much is because they often have incredibly limited budgets and manpower while tackling areas of huge need and of major importance. Because time and money are often so limited, we have to provide creative but implementable solutions,” she says. “I get to apply the concepts I’ve learned at McIntire to really great causes in our community, but I also get to learn how some of the things we’ve been taught in the classroom actually work in the real world.”
The knowledge has been useful in the classroom as well. “Getting to apply what I’ve learned to impactful projects is incredibly rewarding, but I also enjoy getting to bring practical knowledge of real-world issues back to McIntire,” Horner says.
Regarding her professional plans, she trusts that no matter what path she takes for her future employment, she expects to continue making a positive impact on her community.
“My experience in 180DC has taught me so much about not only impact consulting, but also working in a professional setting with a client and creative problem solving as a whole—two skills that I am sure will be invaluable to me in my career,” Horner says.