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Student shares vision-board passion

Niklas Martin

Proverbs 29:18 says, “Where there is no vision, the people perish.” That won’t happen if Wingate student Sarah Katz has her way. The junior communication major is all about helping others discover what they want their future to look like.

It’s the first step, she says, toward seeing those dreams become reality. And step two? Create a vision board to keep them front and center every day.

“This is something I am very passionate about and want to teach to other people,” says the Wilmington, North Carolina, native.

She is sharing the planning technique with local fourth-graders, thanks to an entrepreneurship class and an encouraging professor. She also hopes to turn the idea into the basis of her Honors Program thesis project.

Katz caught the vision-board bug when she was in middle school. Her parents were asked to make a board at work. They decided to challenge Sarah and her two younger siblings to follow suit. The kids each covered a poster board with pictures and words depicting their own dreams and goals.

A girl hugs Stitch at Disney World.

Communication major Sarah Katz gets a hug from Stitch during a visit to Disney World. The trip was a goal on her first vision board as a middle-school student.

“Going to Disney and redecorating my room were a couple of the things on my first board,” Katz says. When Disney World showed up on all three children’s boards, the family began to strategize. Each member had a role to help ensure that they would be financially able to make the trip.

As Katz began realizing some of the goals on her first board, she replaced them with new goals. Over the years, she has created new and larger boards to accommodate additional plans and dreams. She says reading “The Aladdin Factor” by Jack Canfield and Mark Hansen challenged her to come up with 100 things she wanted to do.

“That forces you to dig deep and really think about what you want,” she says. “And putting it on a vision board keeps it in front of you. Mine is right in front of my bed, so it reminds me of what I am working towards.”

Now she uses a large, tri-fold board packed with photos of people she’d like to meet, places she wants to visit and tasks she wants to accomplish. She has also covered the walls of her room with motivational quotes she is putting into practice.

A white wall is covered with inspirational quotes.

A corner of Sarah Katz’ room reveals hundreds of positive messages she has penned on her walls.

“My friend told me it looks like something the Unabomber would have done if he were into positive messages,” Katz quips. “But it helps to have whatever you want in front of you.”

Her vision board was top-of-the-mind last semester when Debbi Brock challenged Katz and the rest of her Social Entrepreneurship class to develop a sustainable business model capable of providing a positive, long-term social impact.

Katz began to flesh out the vision-board idea for her assignment, and Brock, assistant professor of Entrepreneurship & Marketing in Wingate’s Porter B. Byrum School of Business, encouraged her to further implement her plan this semester by presenting the technique to fourth-graders at Shiloh Elementary in Monroe.

“We changed the approach some to make it fit into the school criteria,” Katz explains. “They started out with a worksheet asking them to write down things they like to do, thinks they are good at, things they care about and what problems they want to solve.

“They all got a poster board and were shown my board and a teacher’s board, which were very different boards, to go off of. They worked on them at home for two weeks and then brought them back to school.”

As a follow-up to the project and to meet a Union County Public Schools mandate to get all fourth- and seventh-graders onto college campuses this school year, the students visited Wingate on Feb. 14 for a day of mini-classes, a tour and lunch. During part of their visit, they were challenged to think about college majors and career opportunities.

Katz has no doubt that they had lots of ideas on their minds, especially after brainstorming for their boards.

“It was definitely interesting to hear other people’s goals, what they want to accomplish,” she says of her time at Shiloh. “I am excited to see what their vision boards look like. These kids already have so many ideas. They just need a medium or venue to hone that in and make sure that is what they are focusing on.”

Katz sees a vision-board how-to seminar as a potential staple in school or after-school settings.

“The biggest thing about this is that it’s not just good for kids. It’s never too late to develop goals that you want to accomplish,” she says. “I am doing this with kids, hopefully to start a pattern in their life. But it’s definitely something I think everyone needs.”