How do nine Charlotteans define their purpose in one sentence?

There are so many ways to handle your sense of purpose in life. You can hit the ground running, pursuing it from the start. You can take your sweet time trying to figure it out, trying it on in different shapes and forms and sizes. You can take it too seriously, you can laugh it off, you can throw it away, you can embrace it with everything you’ve got.

And no matter what age, race, gender or job you identify with — you do have the power to define it.

Judith Schindler, Rabbi, Temple Beth El

Age: 49

Purpose: “My purpose in life is to honor the past of my faith, my family and our world; to lift those in my present with my teachings and actions; and to create a better future for all of us that is more just.”

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Melissa Hickok, Yoga Teacher, Charlotte Yoga

Age: 35

Purpose: “I’m borrowing a song lyric from ‘Nature Boy’ sung by Nat King Cole, 1948. ‘The greatest thing you’ll ever learn is just to love and be loved in return.’ This is my purpose.”


Andy Goh, Digital Communications Specialist, Bechtler Museum of Modern Art

Age: 33

Purpose: “I believe that the purpose of life is for one to make their own determination about what their own meaning is specific to that individual – for me, that meaning is to use my talents, skills and education to contribute as much goodwill, beauty and knowledge as I can to society without harming others.”


Christina Thigpen, Vice President of Marketing & Communications for Bissell

Age: 38

Purpose: “My purpose in life is to provide a voice for people’s visions.”

Christina Thigpen

Paul Chabai, Associate Campus Pastor at Elevation Uptown

Age: 27

Purpose: “My purpose isn’t about me, but it’s about living to connect people with who they were created to be.”


Hollis Hammonds, McColl Center Artist-In-Residence

Age: 45

Purpose: “I honestly believe that my purpose in life is to express, teach and challenge, whether that be through my students or as an artist who critiques society and culture.”

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Brandon Neal, Senior Counsel, Wells Fargo

Age: 32

Purpose: “I have always found it difficult to define ‘my purpose,’ knowing and feeling it and yet being unable to assign an adequate definition, but it is ultimately based on tenets embodied by three of my favorite quotes: being the change I wish to see in the world (Ghandi); doing the right thing, even when no one is watching (C.S. Lewis); and knowing that even one life has breathed easier because I have lived (Emerson).”

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Joe Haubenhofer, Sir Idea Man/Partner at The Plaid Penguin

Age: 35

Purpose: “To feed people warm, buttery lobster rolls… because really what else is there?”

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Photos: Robert Klein, Melissa Hickok, Andy Goh, Christina Thigpen, Brian Schindler/Brian Schindler Photography, Hollis Hammonds, Ortega Gaines, LunahZon Photography, Duncan Littlefield.