Name: Brage Garofalo
Where were you born and raised?
Born in Caracas, Venezuela, but raised in Chicago.
What’s a short story around the biggest transition you’ve faced in life?
I thought I wanted to be a Marine Biologist, so after many twists and turns, I decided to move to San Francisco and attend the Marine Biology program at Moss Landing. This entailed packing my life’s belongings into my Honda Civic and driving cross-country alone from Boston to San Francisco with my life’s savings (which wasn’t a whole lot at the time), no job; no written confirmation that the Moss Landing program was actually going to accept me, and no Plan B if I didn’t get in. Though I had always wanted to study Great White Sharks and ensure their preservation, I couldn’t help but feel that there was something else I was supposed to do instead. After some much-needed introspection, I realized my true passion was in helping others; to make a positive impact in the lives of others. It was then that I started looking into Psychology programs, and the more research I did, the more it felt like the right fit. I focused on adolescents and grief and loss, and in serving others in this way, I was allowed to be their guide and safe place for those navigating their journey through the maze of their grief and loss. It was one of the most gratifying periods of my life. Having made all of these transitions, decisions, and detours on my own was one of the most liberating periods of my life. What it ultimately taught me was that I was stronger than I ever thought I was, and change, on every level, was a gift.
What’s the once piece of advice you’d give a younger you?
Don’t ever assume you can’t do something if you haven’t even tried. You have to try. And if you fail, learn from your mistake and try again.
Your Personal Why?
The best of everything, including yourself, is just outside of your comfort zone. Live just beyond your comfort zone. You’d be amazed at what you can accomplish.
How does your Why drive you to be a part of the THF Ecosystem?
When I push the men and women I work with outside of their comfort zone, I am privy to the most beautiful and meaningful transformations. To be an active participant in those metamorphoses propels and energizes me every day. Joseph Campbell once wrote of a young Native American at the time of his initiation: “As you go the way of life, you will see a great chasm. Jump. It is not as wide as you think”. All change involves some degree of risk but it’s worth it. Every single time, it’s worth it. Jump.
Military Connection or Why do you respect Special Operators?
As a mentor, I have had (and continue to have) the true privilege and honor of being invited into the lives of numerous veterans, including Special Operators. They have shared and trusted me with some of the most personal and private aspects of their lives at a time when they have felt the most vulnerable. For the Special Operators, including those I have worked with and whom I now call friends, my respect for them is endless. Not just because of what they have endured, accomplished, and lived through, but for who they were when they made the decision to pursue that career path, and who they chose to become through their own personal journey to the other side of their transition. I continually learn from them as much as I hope they learn from me.
Favorite THF Value, and why?
Prepare Yourself for Adventure. As the saying goes, “Life is an Adventure”. That holds true in anything you do when you’re willing to take a risk. Part of that adventure is learning to enjoy the journey in and of itself. The destination is already there, but being present for and learning from the journey is what will ultimately remind you of who you are, and what you have deep down inside of you. The most accurate description of adventure was expressed by Lawrence K. Fish, who once said, “Find life experiences and swallow them whole.”
Area/Industry of expertise: Biotech research and development, veteran mentor and cheerleader.