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Ep. 15: Elizabeth Varghese – Serving Others While Chasing Your Dream
Episode 1516th November 2015 • Chasing Dreams with Aimee J. • Aimee J.
00:00:00 00:27:23

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In today’s episode of “Chasing Dreams” Aimee is chatting with Elizabeth Varghese, a woman who’s chasing her dream of serving the community at the UMMA Center, an education and training facility located in one of the poorest communities in the metro Chicago area. Along with working hard to help students progress along their educational and career paths at UMMA, Elizabeth is an active member of the Indian Orthodox Church where she spends most of her time and dedicates most of her talents. Along with dancing, traveling, coloring and lollygagging with friends, she enjoys spending time in the service of others. You’ll enjoy hearing Elizabeth’s story of moving from a business management education into a life of full time service to her community.

TWEET: From a business management degree to a community service career

A business management degree that took a turn for the better.

When today’s guest on Chasing Dreams, Elizabeth Varghese, graduated from college it was a business management degree that she held in her hand. She was happy to have her degree but wasn’t sure what it would mean in terms of her future work. Through a string of events, including a trip to India, Elizabeth became convinced that she needed to do something a bit unorthodox by stepping outside her intended career path to “give back” to the community in some way. In this episode you’re going to hear that story and how Elizabeth has become a full time employee at the UMMA Center, an educational facility in the heart of the city. Chasing your dreams doesn’t always mean you build bigger and better things in the culture’s eyes. Sometimes it means you find a place you can serve.

The trip that changed everything.

Elizabeth Varghese had graduated college and decided to go on a trip to India, the land her family was from. As she visited the northern regions of that vast country she saw conditions that people were living in daily that were far below poverty levels in the United States. Her heart went out to the people she saw there and something inside her stirred. She knew that she wanted to do something to help. But being engaged to a wonderful man back in the U.S. told her right away that her desire may need to be channeled in a different direction. When she returned from her trip Elizabeth heard about the UMMA Center and walked in to volunteer. What happened was not what she expected but exactly what her heart was telling her she should do. Hear her story on this episode.

TWEET: Chasing the dream of helping her community, with Elizabeth Varghese

Service for the sake of people, not results.

Elizabeth Varghese admits that one of the hardest parts of the work she does at the UMMA center is waiting to see the results of the love and concern she pours into the lives of those who come into the center. And sometimes she never gets to see any fruit from her efforts. But the dream she’s chasing is not about seeing the results, it’s simply about serving people in ways that matter. The education and training her work provides for those who live in poverty or difficult circumstances is doing exactly that. So even though she doesn’t always see the changes in people’s lives that she is hoping for, she’s accomplishing exactly what she set out to do. Elizabeth’s perspective is refreshing, so be sure you get a dose of it for yourself by listening.

How could your dreams be used to serve others?

Whether you’re making music or painting portraits, teaching children or serving in a community center like Elizabeth Varghese, your dream should in some way be about helping others. Even business ventures can be structured in a way that people are being served. What is your dream and how does it relate to being a blessing to the people it will touch? You are the only one who can ask that question and make its answer become a reality. That’s what the Chasing Dreams podcast is all about - encouraging you not only to chase your dream, but to make it become a reality so that people are helped. Listen to this episode to hear how Elizabeth is doing that and to be inspired to chase your dreams more fully.

TWEET: Making a difference in the heart of the city, with Elizabeth Varghese


  • [0:47] Aimee’s introduction of Elizabeth and the story of her background.
  • [3:40] From a degree in business management to helping others through social work.
  • [5:52] Why Elizabeth showed up and offered to help and how it turned into a full time position at the center.
  • [7:48] The blessing of finding her dream job soon after college.
  • [8:40] How a trip to India motivated Elizabeth to come home to the U.S. and serve.
  • [10:22] The desire to serve fits wherever Elizabeth is.
  • [12:11] Do you ever want to spread the desire to serve?
  • [14:30] The difficulty of waiting on change in the lives of those she serves to become apparent.
  • [15:30] Lessons from Elizabeth’s mom about helping herself before she can help others.
  • [16:19] A lesson learned that has stuck with Elizabeth.
  • [20:03] The Rapid Fire game.
  • [23:12] Elizabeth’s recommendation and Aimee’s reaction.
  • [25:07] Aimee’s summary and thanks.


“The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.” ~ Mahatma Ghandi

THE RAPID FIRE GAME! - Category: Ice Cream Flavors

Aimee and her guest randomly select a category, alternate turns quickly saying something that fits the category, and the first one to hesitate too long, repeat an answer, or give an obviously false answer is the loser! Who will win?


The UMMA Center -


TWEET: The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others. ~ Mahatma Ghandi

TWEET: If we all give our best energy to helping the world, only good can happen ~ Elizabeth Varghese