For International Women’s Day we partnered with the Portland Lyft team to run a contest for their female drivers, where one lucky winner got to bring their dream nut butter to life! After receiving hundreds of submissions we came across a glorious flavor idea (Cashew Chai anyone?) submitted by Melanie, an aspiring teacher who drives Lyft as a side hustle while she pursues her Masters in teaching. We’ve been SO inspired by Mel and think you will be too!
Alright Mel, tell us a little bit about yourself!
I moved to Portland almost two years ago from the Bay Area. I’m passionate about education and am currently pursuing a Masters degree in Teaching at Lewis and Clark Graduate School. I’ve worked many jobs within the education world, including campus supervisor, substitute teacher, and behavior assistant. I also spent a summer teaching English in Indonesia! I originally started driving for Lyft as a way to make some quick money, because when I first moved to Portland I didn’t have a job.
I’ve enjoyed driving more than I thought I would! I have been able to meet people from all over and have such intellectual conversations. I’m constantly learning new things from my passengers. It’s been nice sharing ideas and opinions with people from all walks of life.
How did you come up with the idea for the Cashew Chai flavor?
I guess I just love chai so much that when I saw the contest, Cashew Chai was the first flavor that popped into my head. I drink a lot of tea, and chai tea is always such a treat. I also really love cashews, and I thought the milder flavor of cashews would go nicely with a bold chai flavor. (She was right, by the way!)
How do you feel most empowered as a woman? How do you empower other women?
I feel empowered as a woman when I am taking care of myself. Taking care of my physical, mental, and spiritual health is important to me. It’s not always easy, especially when life gets busy, so each time I exercise, meal prep, meditate, read, or simply just relax…I feel empowered. I know that I’m a badass woman who can balance school/work with life and still make time for myself. (Preach it sister!)
I would say my biggest influence is in trying to empower young girls. I work in education, and will soon be licensed to teach social studies at the secondary level (grades 6-12). In social studies, I am constantly trying to present to students the voices that are missing from the textbook, and more often than not, women are part of the voiceless in history. I try to get students thinking about the role women have played in history. I hope that this empowers my young female students.
Lyft has also provided a platform for me to empower women. Driving for Lyft is similar to bartending in that some customers are really willing to open up to me. I would say I have a trusting and inviting personality, and have noticed that several of my female passengers feel comfortable talking to me about really personal issues. It warms me to feel such trust from strangers. I have talked with women who are having issues at work, issues with family/boyfriends, or just in general having a bad day. I feel like I have a unique position in being able to offer people an unbiased opinion. I’m thankful to Lyft for providing this opportunity for me to feel like I’m supporting women, even if it’s just on their drive to work.
How do you stay inspired?
I’m a forever learner. I am constantly seeking new knowledge that inspires me to be better. I’m also inspired from the people I talk to everyday. This includes both my students and my Lyft passengers. It’s amazing what you can learn from other people if you take the time to listen.
What are your favorite ways to #spreadgood in your community?
I’m super eco-conscious, so my favorite way to #spreadgood in my community is by being good for the environment. Slowly but surely I am eliminating all single-use items from my home and I like to support local companies that are using sustainable materials/energy.
I also like to #spreadgood just by being cheerful! Human connection is so important, so I try to connect to those around me, even if it’s just a simple smile or “hello” as I pass someone on the street. The best way to support your community, in my opinion, is recognizing that you are part of one.
The Lyft x Ground Up Cashew Chai flavor is our most limited flavor yet! And to top off all the goodness of this flavor- for every jar sold Lyft is donating a ride to a woman in need through a partnership with Outside In. Order your jar of Cashew Chai before it’s too late!