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growth due to a personal loss. Situations out of my control allowed me to see who my true friends were as well as who really supported me despite the circumstances. Even though at the time the situation seemed unbearable, I ignored it. I continued with my life as if nothing had happened and because people view me as a cheerful and optimistic person, I tried my hardest at keeping my composure in the eyes of others. There were, however, a few instances when a good friend and even my leadership coach noticed that something was not right. I blamed my non-energetic moments on the amount of school work and the lack of sleep. Furthermore, I geared all of my attention and dedication to my internship. I devoted countless hours to the perfection of all the projects I was in charge of. I practically disregarded my free time, and whenever I had a few hours to spare, I would find something to do. I did not spend a lot of time with friends because I was disappointed on the concept of friendship. I did not trust my friends, and I found it difficult to be around them. I hid away and did pay attention to my needs, such as the need for down time; I became a workaholic. I was also unsure about my decisions, and I questioned many at times my performance at work and school. I did not feel pleased with my work, and I felt as though I was slacking. In the eyes of others, however, it was the opposite, but I did not quite believe it. Besides my mother, there was only one other person who held my hand, listened to my worries, and made me smile. Because of this special friend I made it through triumphantly, and now I am amazed at how I pulled through. After taking the ECI-U, I learned that I am aware of my emotions and the reasons for those feelings, and I also recognize the link between my feelings and my thoughts and actions. The problem comes when I do not pay attention to those feelings, especially if these emotions cause any sort of pain. I used to think that if you shared your insecurities and deep sorrows with someone else, even the closest friends, this would allow others to know your weak points and later on backstab you. Yet, my leadership coach has changed that attitude completely. I shared with my coach all of the things that were really bothering me, and for the first time in my life I was able to say out loud how I really felt to someone else besides my mother. After talking to him, I felt so much better because a huge weight was finally removed from my shoulders. I also began writing about my emotions, and this helped me analyze further the source of my hidden emotions.
Even though I endured such an emotional rollercoaster, my sense of humor about myself did not change. There were one or two occasions in which hilarious incidents made me laugh uncontrollably. For instance, I slipped and fell down in a patch of ice, and there were ten people behind me. Instead of feeling embarrassed about my situation, I started laughing and this caused everybody around me to laugh as well. Needless to say, those people helped stand up. When it comes to knowing my strengths and weaknesses, I underestimated my own strengths. There are times in which I get caught up in little things such as people’s comments and opinions. I cannot please everyone, and I finally understand this. It is completely okay to disagree with a friend, coworker, superior, and/or family member. Therefore, from now on I will not only state my opinion but also offer constructive criticism even if people do not want to hear it. I am the type of person who takes all the blame if anything goes wrong, but this should not be the case because it does affect my self-confidence. Despite having a little bit of doubt in myself when things do not go as planned, I present myself in an assured and unhesitating manner, which allows me to have presence when I walk in a room; I also see myself as someone capable for any type of task if given the chance and proper training. Because I talked to my leadership coach about this lack of self-confidence when things go wrong, he asked me the reasons I felt unsure. I explained to him what bothered me, and he pointed out things I was really good at. After hearing him, my self-confidence was restored and increased. He also made me appreciate certain characteristics about myself that other people see, such as a high-energy level, optimism, friendliness, and honesty. Furthermore, the fall semester ’06 was the most professionally and academically challenging time thus far because I became a John Graf Intern at the Illinois Leadership Center. This is a para-professional internship which demands a lot of detailed work and commitment. Consequently, I needed to develop the image representative not only of the center and its philosophy but also of the people I worked with. I strived to resemble the detailed, strategic, analytical, and communication skills of my supervisors and coworkers. In the beginning of the internship, I was bombarded with information about the office and how it runs and also about the projects I chose. For the first couple of weeks, the level of work was stable, but it soon increased. I had a leadership program to coordinate, marketing deadlines, two weekly meetings, and academic demands simultaneously requiring my attention. Because I did not deny any request that came my way, I ended up with a lot of responsibilities on my plate; I was stressed out. When I am stressed out, my cheerful personality does not disappear completely, but I do not
really let it come out. I focus too much in my tasks, and I do not set out a time for down time. Nonetheless, I stayed composed and positive because stress can get the best out of people. Trustworthiness is another aspect of self-management that I excel at. I am authentic, and everybody that has known me will say this about me. Although I try to exemplify the characteristics of my supervisors, professors, coworkers, friends, and family members, I do not pretend to be something that I am not. I find a balance between my role models and who I am. I always take tough, principled stands, even if they are unpopular, and I confront unethical actions in others. For instance, when I was the Latina/o Formal chair, I was responsible for selecting candidates for special awards. I did not let anyone influence my decision, especially acquaintances who were friends with those nominated students. I stayed neutral to all the comments, and instead based the process solely on academic standing and personal statements. The awarded students received recognition for their arduous work and commitment to the University of Illinois and the Latino community on campus. In order to demonstrate successful leadership potential, one needs to have conscientiousness. Conscientiousness is a voice inside of me, which allows me to succeed throughout my life, especially this past academic year. Conscientiousness simply deals with following through on commitments, showing attention to detail, and being careful with the work. I was in charge of the LeaderShape® Institute program; this is a six-day leadership conference for students who exemplify leadership on campus. This is a major program in the Illinois Leadership Center, and this was the first year an intern took upon the project. I needed to coordinate a promotional event, establish a professional relationship with deans from all the colleges on campus, update application materials, host a welcoming reception, send participants information about the program, develop lists and organize participants information in Excel, design t-shirts, contact and establish deadlines with vendors, contact facilitators, visit the location for the conference, and ultimately spend six days in complete seclusion from the outside world with 60 participants and their facilitators as well as the staff from the retreat center. Because I was a participant of LeaderShape® in 2006, I wanted my students to experience the same if not a better program that helped me discover my leadership potential, which I had not seen before. Therefore, I committed completely to this project, and I dedicated a lot of hours in its development. For instance, after all the participants agree to participate in the program, their personal information is collected and compiled in a biography book. This book is later distributed to all the participants once they arrive at the conference. This is probably one of the most tedious tasks of
the entire process because the data has to be transferred from an Excel online spreadsheet to a Word document, and it is also edited for fitting purposes. Needless to say, the attention to detail is crucial because if an error is made and the book is sent to the print it is impossible to correct it. In order to complete the biography book, I returned to work during my winter break. While other students might complain about a shorter break, I could not wait to get back to work and finish my tasks. I remember running through my head the lists of things I needed to complete when I could not fall asleep. Despite my efforts to run the program smoothly, something unexpected occurred. I did not double check the supplies or the curriculum to notice that I needed post-it notes; my supervisor, Dave Rosch, noticed the missing item. He could have been extremely upset about the lack of detail, but instead he made me responsible for the solution. I immediately thought about the staff in the conference center, so I suggested asking them for postit notes especially because the center provided a few other materials for the program. Indeed, the staff provided post-it notes, and Dave also offered to buy some extras once he returned to campus (Dave Rosch did not stay at the conference center because I was the on-site coordinator). From this experience, I learned to always double and triple check everything. As for adaptability, I transition easily into any type of situation. My first big transition was moving from Mexico City to the United States. Although I was unfamiliar with the culture and the language, I adapted to my new lifestyle. The reason behind the change was my father; he moved to the United States after an earthquake in 1985 destroyed a vast portion of city. He has resided in this country ever since. My mother as well as my brother and myself were still living in Mexico, and the situation created family tension. When I was 12 years-old, my mother and father did not what they want their children to grow up in under such circumstances. Consequently, we came to the United States. I do not regret this change in my life at all because this country has given me unimaginable opportunities, such as a higher education. Another way to prove my adaptability was working an almost full-time job (my internship) and keeping up with my academic course work. Most seniors in college take non-challenging classes and behave carelessly. Yet, I did the opposite because when I am presented with challenges, I show my leadership style and skills. As expected, I was very busy all the time during the fall semester of my senior year. I took 15 hours of advanced courses in advertising, managed a demanding job, and dealt with personal difficulties. It was not an easy semester, but the personal and professional growth was rewarding. I exceeded my own expectations as to how much pressure I can handle. Furthermore, I learned to prioritize my
tasks in order to make deadlines. I also spent countless hours at the library studying and finishing up assignments in order to succeed academically. Moreover, I was involved in the American Advertising Federation Diversity and National Student Advertising Competition Committees, which took all the spare time I had. I managed to complete all of my responsibilities, but obviously I obtained help from my mother, my leadership coach/supervisor, Owen Kulemeka (one of my role models and friends), Natalya Namts (my supportive friend and studying partner), and another good friend. Whenever I needed to vent out any frustration all of them patiently listened and advised me. Interpersonal Development • Relationship Building • Communication Skills • Ethical Practices • Team Development Because I have an extrovert personality, I gain all of my energy by interacting with other people. I truly enjoy working in a group of people because this is the best chance to obtain great ideas and foster their growth. I also learn from people either a technical skill or some interesting insights about their lives. My most recent proof of relationship building was working in the Illinois Leadership Center. Since every once in awhile I needed to delegate task to the student workers in our office, establishing a work-relationship was the key to completing my work. I took the time to get to know their names, and an interesting fact about every single one of them. Because I held conversations with them about their lives, dreams, and goals, they trusted me. I also praised them for their input, feedback, and help whenever I received it. These details paid off in the end when I delegated very important tasks that needed special attention. No single student worker denied my requests, and they always volunteered to help me even when I did not have anything for them. Communications skills are the base for any project, organization, and personal as well as professional relationship. As the Direct Marketing and B2B team leader for NSAC last year, I worked with a team of five people. Our goal was to develop a marketing plan for Postal Vault, a locking mailbox, and how vendors could implement this product among their product lines. Because our team was one of seven, I needed to inform my subordinates about what all the other leaders were working on; I also assigned roles to all of my peers, and held weekly meetings in order to discuss our ideas and develop strategic plans that were on target with the
campaign. More importantly, I encouraged every one to voice out their opinions and ask questions if something was not clear. My internship in the Illinois Leadership Center challenged me to improve my communication skills too. The outreach program is basically a myriad of presentations to various student populations about the programs and services our center offered. I not only developed the agendas on teambuilding but also trained my fellow peers about how to carry out the presentations. It was a pleasure taking upon this project because I love public speaking. The outreach program, however, helped me identify my audiences and carry out an effective message specifically targeted to their needs. Due to my arduous work and dedication, our leadership workshops filled to maximum capacity before the deadlines and the waiting lists to sign-up for all the programs increased in comparison to previous years. I would not have been able to do all of this without my outreach partner, Benjamin Cober, who strategically scheduled people to deliver the presentations and informed everyone whenever we received a request for a presentation. Our personalities and commitment to the outreach program helped us improve in team development; the success we experienced was due to the student workers contribution as well. My ethical practices were tested while working as an intern in the Illinois Leadership Center. Because I managed a budget for my programs and had access to a credit card from the office, I could have taken advantage of this privilege. I, however, did not abuse my supervisors’ trust. I used the resources in the way these were meant to be used, solely on the programs. Whenever I made a purchase, I submitted the receipts with a brief explanation about the purpose of each item in case my supervisor needed it. I also asked for opinions in case I was hesitant about buying something. Additionally, I attended the integrity program, which helped me recognize the following: 1. How integrity affects personal credibility as a leader 2. Define my personal values and the roles these values play in my leadership-oriented actions 3. Develop a practical understanding of how to apply ethics to my day-to-day decisions 4. Develop a personal integrity-directed vision statement which will serve as a guide for leadership within group settings
Integrity gave me the knowledge to understand the difference between a moral, value, and belief. I was able to identify my current top four core values and to transform these into an ethical mission statement that reflected my character. My critical thinking was also tested when given choices about the different options I could take to solve a problem. It was not easy to choose among the alternatives, but I ultimately chose what I thought would show proof of my character. Organizational/Group Development • • • • Leading Change Project and Program Effectiveness Systems Thinking Community Building
I believe that whenever a good idea is born, one must share it and see that it is carried out. I was responsible for the marketing/advertising of the center at the Illinois Leadership Center, and my mission was to bring in students from all backgrounds to our center in order to utilize the programs and services. Whenever we hosted brainstorm meetings with the staff, interns, and student workers to find possible marketing plans promote our center, the same ideas were mentioned. But nobody really took these and put them in a marketing plan, I had no tangible direction as to where to begin the marketing campaign. Therefore, I compiled all of the ideas and put them together in a marketing plan. The marketing plan received constructive criticism from my supervisor, and the final product gave detailed information about the type of event, description of activity, contact information, and a list of materials needed. I also developed the first ever “Cookie Day” campaign which brought students into our office (each student received a free cookie after listening to a brief introduction about the center) and created word-of-mouth about the “cool” leadership programs. This is probably the best year the Illinois Leadership Center has seen increased attendance in all of its programs, especially among students who had never heard about it. For example, the Leadership Certificate Program participation increased by 120% and was recognized with the 2007 Student Affairs Outstanding Program Award. This award shows how I, along with my team of staff, interns, and student workers, demonstrate project and program effectiveness. I am also very proud of the results from the LeaderShape® Program. LeaderShape® is a year-round project. I was responsible for developing agendas for all of the five follow-up
sessions and encouraging students’ participation in at least three sessions. My project and program effectiveness would not have been possible without delegation. Because I tend to take upon a lot of work, one of my goals this past year has been learning to delegate. When I worked on LeaderShape®, my supervisor offered tons of help. He also recommended asking a student worker to help me complete my tasks. I resorted to delegation in order to successfully prepare for LeaderShape®, and a student worker exceeded my expectation when handling complex projects. Another piece of evidence for this category is the request I made to my Intersect supervisors. After carrying out the first Intersect session, we analyzed our communication styles and identified possible ways to improve the program for the next session. I asked them to give me immediate feedback in order to know exactly what was working and what was not working. The immediate feedback helped us run an excellent Intersect session the second time around. Similarly, complex tasks promote the improvement of my analytical skills. During LeaderShape® I needed to familiarize myself with technology. When the lead facilitators delivered a presentation, they used power point slides, and it was my job to make sure that the technology worked properly. I was afraid of ruining the LCD projector or the audio system, but I paid close attention and took detailed notes when I was given proper instructions to use the equipment. After connecting all the cables to the computer and audio system, it did not seem as complicated as in the beginning. Community Development is one of the goals I have set out for me in the Leadership Certificate Program. I see myself as a connector because I know a significant number of people on campus. Consequently, when someone needs help I can direct him/her to the right person or to where the resources are located. Nevertheless, I am very busy and have not been able to collaborate as much with my fellow peers in the development of our similar goals. I do, however, try to stay in touch with them in order not to ruin those relationships. My biggest success in community development occurred through LeaderShape® because a year after participating in this program, I still communicate my fellow peers. When I returned to campus, I was able to apply the teachings from the program and develop coalitions among the Latino community on campus by becoming the Latina/o Formal Chair. The friendships I made with my peers from LeaderShape® are priceless. Transitional Development
As my graduation quickly approaches I have been reflecting on the many successes and setbacks I have faced over the course of my college career. It is impressive to see my leadership growth, and how I have applied the top five transferable skills: communication, interpersonal, organizational, ethical leadership, and technical. I have begun the transformation from a college student to a young professional, and I have also taken the first baby-steps into this transition. I traveled to New York to attend the Advertising Women of New York conference in which I networked with Advertising industry leaders. I gained insight about the industry for which I feel so passionate about, and established meaningful relationships. Furthermore, I was recently awarded with the Most Promising Minority Student in Advertising Award due to my extensive commitment to advertising and leadership in the American Advertising Federation as well as outside of this network. Furthermore, I attended the Chicago Advertising Federation Career Day to familiarize myself with the career opportunities available in this market. When I took the ECI-U, I discovered that transitional development is an area in which I need to work on. Because of my busy agenda, I stopped seeking opportunities to mentor others. Therefore, when I was given the opportunity to participate in the Urbana Youth Leadership Conference, I took it. The youth conference allowed me to teach others how to build teamwork, and I provided the agenda for the participants. I was able to show the students the importance of teambuilding, and the benefits one obtains when working in a cohesive and inclusive group of people. It is important to maintain mentoring relationships with your peers because if you motivate others to continue a legacy important goals will materialize. Therefore, I persuaded two students to participate in the LeaderShape® Institute Program. My goal for the upcoming five years after graduation is to form part of a mentoring program for college students.