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Jen Holmes, 30, Fairbanks, Alaska
Occupation: Mechanical engineer
Purpose: “Being close to nature”

Jen’s need to be outdoors didn’t come from her parents: “My mom is allergic to the outside world and my dad is not really into it either,” she says. Yet, her love of nature is so innate that to articulate her purpose she had to consider the decisions she’s made in life. “When I was a kid, I joined Girls Scouts in hopes of going camping,” she recalls. But it was camping in a cabin, not a tent, so she quit. Instead, she regularly rode her bike ten miles to go hiking, occasionally convincing a sibling to join her.

After college, she landed a civil engineering job in the Catskill Mountains, where she grew up. “People were moving up in masses because of 9/11. Most of my job was chopping up prime lots for McMansions. It was horrible. I had to reevalute to find something to meet my purpose.” After a try at veterinary school, she decided to move to Alaska. “I wanted to go someplace where you can experience true wilderness.” As a mechanical engineer there, she designs systems with minimal impact on the earth. “I try to get projects in remote locations with only 100 to 200 people living there. For them, it’s so painful to get energy out there that it makes a huge difference to make a system that’s efficient.”